The Old Dominion University Asian community and guests celebrated the annual Lantern Festival in the Big Blue Room of the Ted Center on Wednesday, Feb. 19. Celebrated throughout Asia as a symbolic way to end the lunar New Year, the Lantern Festival was the closing event of “Asian Seasons”, a week of events created to increase awareness of the growing Asian-American community at ODU.
The event began with an explanation of the significance and cultural meaning of the Lantern Festival, which is said to have begun during the Han Dynasty in China to bid adieu to winter.
During Lantern Festival, children dress up in nice clothes and solve riddles inscribed on the lanterns. Just like people in Western cultures carve pumpkins, Chinese parents and parents from other cultures in Asia often carve lanterns with their children. They are typically lit so that the shining red decorations are visible from afar.
Further into the program, Office of Intercultural Relations (OIR) Stephanie Riggs, cultural relations analyst, and Aey Wongtrirat, assistant director of international initiatives, read off an impressive list of all of the cultural student organizations and representing countries that were present at the event.
Lantern Festival ended with a traditional Asian dinner of fried rice, lo mein, seared pork loin, dumplings and a variety of traditional crème-filled wafer cookies.
The event was organized by both the OIR and the recently-founded Confucius Institute, an umbrella organization under which all China-related initiatives in the university’s colleges can be indexed and coordinated. The institute is also responsible for facilitating the instruction of the Chinese language on campus, imparting knowledge of Chinese culture and history and creating partnerships that foster mutual understanding between China as a country.
With a total of only 70 Confucius Institutes awarded to American universities, the designation has placed ODU among an impressive peer group composed of some of the nation’s top academic institution.
By Jason Kazi