SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The 2023 Chinese New Year — the year of the Water Rabbit — started Jan. 22.

To celebrate and honor the culture, Missouri State University is hosting a Chinese New Year event on campus.

Dr. Weirong Yan-Schaefer, with the World Languages and Cultures Department at Missouri State, said this event is more than just celebrating the Chinese New Year; it is about inviting the Springfield community to be a part of and learn about Chinese traditions.

“[It is] not only for the Chinese community but also it is a great opportunity for Springfield and people from the midwest to get exposed to a different culture,” said Dr. Yan-Schaefer. 

Twelve animals represent the Lunar calendar and each year is a different element that goes along with it.

There are five different elements: wood, water, earth, metal and fire. 

For example, I was born in 1999, which means I was born in the year of the Earth Rabbit. According to Chinese tradition, those born in that year are natural and relaxed, rarely hurt by anyone. A long life full of fortune awaits them.

The celebration will kick off at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 1 with a lion dance and kung fu performance.

From there, different instructors will show Chinese traditions such as a tea ceremony, Chinese painting, musical performances and a dumpling workshop.

Sean Gong, a professor in the College Business Department, said that although the number of Chinese students at MSU has dwindled over the last 3 years due to COVID-19 and restrictions in China, the Chinese students who are here get to experience a piece of home with the celebrations. 

“We used to have a lot of Chinese students during this time period and they would get homesick a lot,” Gong said. “We were able to put a show on together, come together and become a family.”

She said having this in person allows her students to connect with the Chinese traditions they have been learning about. 

“People are looking forward and I’m excited and I think my students and the people will have fun,“ said Dr. Yan-Schaefer. “It will be cheerful and happy and a joyful day.”