MILLBURN, NJ - Around the globe, people have been reeling in the Chinese New Year holiday with firecrackers, lanterns, dragons, lion dances, extravagant meals with families, red envelopes for the kids, and much more. The day, more commonly called the Spring Festival, marks the first day of the year on the lunar calendar. According to the Chinese zodiac, each year is represented by an animal sign in a twelve-year cycle. For example, 2014 is the Year of the Horse, so this is the zodiac year, or Ben Ming Nian, for people born this year or whose age is a multiple of 12. Genghis Khan, Neil Armstrong, and Oprah Winfrey were all were born in the Year of the Horse.

Festivals are celebrated in many cities around the world with significant Chinese populations.  In New York, parades and Chinese New Year performances filled many Chinatown and midtown streets.  And in Millburn, the Asian Club of Millburn High School prepared for months in anticipation of its Lunar New Year Party. Last Friday, on the eighth day of the holiday, over sixty students gathered in the cafeteria to watch their friends perform in the talent show, socialize with friends while enjoying Chinese food and desserts, and participate in raffles for handmade crafts.

The performances featured the duo of senior Jenny Du and freshman Bill Zhang singing pop singer Andrew Tan’s “Empress of Heaven.” The trio of Jenny Du and juniors Haewool Yoon and Jaehyun Kim sang and played to “Dream High” from the Dream High soundtrack and “Sunset Glow” by Big Bang. Both groups engaged and entertained the audience. Junior Fan Chung Hung was invited back from the last Millburn High School Lunar New Year Party in 2012 to perform complicated Chinese yo-yo stunts, which received the roaring support of the audience. The China Care Club, a newly founded organization dedicated to improving the plight of Chinese orphans, introduced itself and its missions, hoping for support in the coming years. Freshman Dan Fu performed poi that amazed the audience, and lastly senior Andrew Afable concluded the program with a rap that stirred much laughter and support.

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Sylvia Levy, vice president of Asian Club and a senior at Millburn High School, was very happy with the talent show and audience support:  “The audience was really excited and supportive of all the performers.”

Laurel Meng, president of Asian Club and also a senior, was very pleased with the turnout and success of the event. “Each officer put in a much-appreciated helping hand in helping the process run smoothly. Ms. King, the Chinese teacher, also put in a lot of time and effort to help the students out.”

Meng continues: “The party is fueled by the energy of the students. Organizing the event is a lot of work, but it all pays off when the festival comes together and everyone gets to enjoy the party.”

And students did enjoy the party, a lot. When asked for their favorite part of the party, Curtis Li, a sophomore, said that “The Chinese yoyo performance was amazing and the food from QJ was delicious.” For junior and China Care board member Patrick Shi, he enjoyed the “amazing yo-yo performance” very much as well. Senior Miranda Wang said her “favorite part was definitely the food.”

Aside from enjoying the steaming platters of noodles and Chinese dishes provided by QJ Green Garden, there seemed to be a consensus among students that Hung’s yo-yo performance was one of the best yet. Many are eagerly looking forward to next year’s party.

As Chinese New Year draws to a close, there is still one more important tradition, a holiday of itself. The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the lunar year, or the last day of Chinese New Year which also happens to fall on Valentine’s Day this year. Bright lanterns will be displayed in homes as people watch fireworks to close off the holiday.  Meanwhile, the tangyuan, a glutinous rice ball with sweet bean, sesame, lotus seed, meat, or fruit filling, will be enjoyed.

May the Year of the Horse bring all good luck and prosperity! Gong xi fa cai!