“How are you gonna celebrate Chinese New Year tonight?”
I took a glance at my phone while calculating equations for Econ, and quickly replied, “Don’t have any plans so far, you?”
That night, my friend Vicky, myself, and some other Chinese students, decided to celebrate Chinese New Year at China Blue (倾国). We walked into the overcrowded restaurant. Its decorations felt intimate and oriental- small details that reminded us of home.
Unlike the vibrant, family atmosphere of Chinese New Year back home with aunties cooking an endless array of celebratory dishes, the New Year abroad is for friends. We keep it casual and easy. It’s the kind of meal you treat yourself to after acing your finals. A meal to gossip and enjoy in the company of other Chinese students who can’t go back home.
Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China. In the U.S., however, Chinese international students tend to get swept up in the hustle and bustle of university life. Thus, the new year becomes less important. The reason is simple – we still have classes, assignments, and exams during the holiday.
The new year might not get a huge celebration in the U.S. but we get super nostalgic. We watch our families post photos of home, food and family gatherings on WeChat. With each photo, you miss home more and more. I still remember writing out spring festival scrolls for my family when I was a kid. My calligraphy mentor, a normally strict old man, would cut me slack as the new year approached. Now, after many years, I still mail New Year scrolls from New York to China for my grandparents.
“Yes, it’s still in my blood.” My friend once told me after we had our New Year’s dinner and attended a Chinese musical.
Walking out of the theatre, I took a deep breath, and an air of happiness enveloped me. Heading back to my apartment, the joy quickly faded. I sighed. What if my family, all of a sudden, knocked on my door and shouted “Happy New Year”? I would do anything to see them.
I turned on Facetime and dialed their number. At the very moment I saw their faces, I held back tears and put on a cheerful smile. “Yes! I definitely had a good time. Ah, it’s another promising new year, right?”