By Ellen Feng
For the first time, the GCR has organised a Chinese New Year formal dinner to welcome the Year of Dog! Honest and loyal, Dogs are the truest friends and most reliable partner. In China, it is still popular to name dogs Wàng Cái (旺财). It means “prosperous wealth” and comes from dogs’ barking sounds (旺旺—wàng wàng).
The Dog is the eleventh of all zodiac animals. According to a myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived at his party. Monkey, Rooster and Dog were in another country, helping a god defeat evil spirits. After, they set off to the party together. Because they arrived at the same time, the Jade Emperor went by the order they met the god in the other country. Thus, the Dog became eleventh.
At Ustinov’s celebration of this event, guests were welcomed with prawn crackers. As guests found their seats, Chinese New Year decorations in recognition of Chinese culture and heritage were bestowed around the dining area: lanterns, couplets and toy dogs laid gently on each table.
After guests took their seat, the GCR President Jamie Graham gave a speech on Chinese New Year, followed by the Ustinov College principal Glenn McGregor’s speech with some Chinese greetings. Since this is the last time that Ustinov College will hold a formal dinner at the Howlands Building, we give a big thank you to University accommodation support officers.
As a starter, Chicken in Asian broth filled our bellies. Before the main course, a toast to ancestors, parents and friends have left us a deep impression – shouting out “Gān” together for celebrations. In China, you’ll hear Chinese New Year is called the Spring Festival. While it’s still very wintry, the holiday marks the end of the coldest days. People welcome spring and what it brings along: planting and harvests, new beginnings and fresh starts. The Spring Festival was originally a ceremonial day to pray to gods for a good planting and harvest season. As an agrarian society, the harvest was everything. People also prayed to their ancestors, as they were treated as gods.
As the night continued, the main course was delicious pork meatballs with pakchoi; and our vegetarian version was Tofu with the same accompaniments.
The night ended with a Rice Pudding, as well as a closing speech from the principal with a toy Corgi, which is the Queen’s favourite dog. Afterwards, the fantastic Dusk ‘Til Dawn hosted a night of karaoke and celebration in Fisher House, with all joining in the revelry. All of these fun activities hopefully foretell the fortune and luck coming your way for Chinese New Year!
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