“The Year of the Water Snake" Celebrated at West Essex

Eric Dang, a West Essex Middle School eighth grader from Fairfield, enjoys some lo mein and fried rice at the West Essex Chinese New Year's Festival Credits: Allison Freeman

NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - “The Year of the Water Snake,” was celebrated at West Essex Regional Schools with a special Chinese New Year Festival Feb. 21 after-school at West Essex Regional High School. The event was planned by the West Essex Chinese Club and the West Essex Chinese Honor Society, under the direction of Chinese Club and Honor Society Advisor Cynthia Ni.

Ni said she spoke to students about many of the traditions for the new year. "People get a haircut and new set of clothes for good luck to start the new year," she said.

"A festival like this definitely opens up the school to other cultures and traditions," said Lawrence Zhang, a freshman from Fairfield.

Lawrence Zhang  Credit: Allison Freeman

More than 50 students and 20 faculty members enjoyed Chinese food and games and socializing with friends in the High School Cafeteria.

West Essex staff    Credit: Cynthia Ni

Students feasted on lo mein and fried rice and played Chinese games, including marble solitaire and different card games. Guests at the festival helped themselves to a large buffet of Chinese specialties.

Credit: Cynthia Ni

Credit: Allison Freeman

"I really like this festival," said Derek Gallagher, a freshman from Fairfield. "It is a good way to get people together, Chinese or not." Gallagher and Jake Russin, both freshmen from Fairfield, played marble solitaire as part of the afternoon’s activities.

Left to Right: Derek Gallagher, Science Supervisor Liz Ricafort, Jake Russin
Credit: Allison Freeman

Joe Toumanios and Darren Gomez, both seniors from Fairfield, took part in a Chinese card game at the gathering.

Joe Toumanios, Darren Gomez  Credit: Allison Freeman

The decorations were authentic and brightly colored, representing wishes for the New Year of good health and prosperity.

Credit: Allison Freeman

Heather Krannich, a junior from North Caldwell, held up the Chinese Zodiac animals. According to legend, the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac represent the order of each animal’s arrival for an audience before the Jade Emperor. They include the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, water snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Krannich noted that this is the Year of the Water Snake.

Heather Krannich  Credit: Allison Freeman

Happily, while having some foreboding forecasts, the Year of the Water Snake is considered the "year of the flying star” and is thought by the Chinese to be a good year for new beginnings, including marriages and relationships and travelling.

Hǎo yùn and yīlùshùnfēng!

Eric Dang   Credit: Allison Freeman

For further information:
West Essex High School and Middle School
65 West Greenbrook Road
North Caldwell, NJ 07006
Facebook Page:  West Essex Regional School District

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