Lunar New Year at Concord
Homesickness is the feeling that every Concord student will have the heart-wrenching pleasure of experiencing from time to time. Between looming exams and extra-curriculars, as well as the myriad of other roles and commitments for us to fulfil from day to day, there are usually enough things going on to keep this feeling locked away. However, a time of year where the homesickness comes in droves for a significant portion of students here, myself included, is Lunar New Year. This is normally made far worse due to us being tormented by posts and stories on social media of the festivities back home, wherever that may be. Videos and pictures of our friends at home enjoying delectable goodies, dressing up in new (traditionally very red) clothes, and spending time with loved ones, can almost be enough to make you wish you were at home, instead of studying for that upcoming Saturday test.
Perhaps one of the most universally traditional Lunar New Year customs amongst those who celebrate it, however, is the annual reunion dinner, where family and friends come together in order to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the holiday, all while eating both sumptuous and symbolic foods (for example, eating fish represents prosperity in the new year). In order to somewhat remedy the ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) that naturally comes this time of year, Concord makes an effort to bring the spirit of the holiday to England. The biggest way in which they do this is to organise a massive Lunar New Year dinner in Birmingham’s Chinatown, for all students who wish to take part. Were it not for this school being kind enough to do this, the closest thing most of us would get to celebrating the holiday would be the care packages of Lunar New Year snacks that some lucky students get from their families, which are often reduced to empty boxes by all their friends as soon as they are opened.
Thus, on Saturday the 25th of January this year, which was indeed Lunar New Year’s Day, over 200 students piled onto a total of six coaches bound for Birmingham, to celebrate the cultural holiday. After a day of shopping in the Bull Ring in Birmingham, we all eventually made our way back on the busses to head to the venue. The function room at the event was filled with enough tables to seat the large fraction of the school that attended, and was well-stocked with enough food to satisfy the couple of hundred hungry teenagers. Despite the large number of dishes that were served, including chicken with bean curd skin, a whole steamed fish to each table, and a free flow of fragrant steamed rice, little to none went to waste on our table, with my friends and I quickly picking apart each dish, often to the literal bone. As I looked around, it was evident that the same was the case for many other tables around us.
Quite apart from the nostalgic and comforting nature of the event to those who would otherwise feel left out of the New Year festivities at home, it was a wonderful opportunity for those students (and indeed teachers) who would not normally celebrate the holiday to experience a slice of a different culture, which ultimately ties back to the spirit of Concord and its international community. Following a stirring and wonderfully bilingual speech from members of the Chinese society, I feel that I can speak for many people who were present on the day when I say that it was a fantastic time for everyone, regardless of whether we normally celebrated the holiday or not.
Luke – 6.2
A message from Concord’s Chinese Society
A short message from the Presidents of Concord’s Chinese Society about Lunar New Year.
Lunar New Year
Last week (Saturday, January 28) was the first day of the Lunar New Year, symbolising the start of the year of the Rooster. To understand this year better, I decided that I should do some research on the Chinese zodiac. I found out that each zodiac year is not only associated with an animal sign, but also one of five elements: gold, wood, water, fire or earth; and 2017 is the Fire Rooster Year. Characteristics of the Fire Rooster include trustworthiness, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility of work, which leads me to the belief that this year will be a productive year of us all at Concord.
Not being able to celebrate Chinese New Year at home is undoubtedly one of the toughest parts about studying overseas. You would think that I would be used to having to miss out on all the food, family gatherings and especially the red packets now, but the answer is simply — no. This is my 5th year away from home, and truthfully, I still miss the roasted pork and grandma-made radish cakes dearly. Thankfully, at Concord the Chinese and Hong Kong Society arranges a Chinese New Year Dinner every year, making our taste buds feel a little closer to home.
Whilst some students went to Birmingham this year, I decided to stay at school with a few of my closest friends to make a feast of our own. The menu included roasted crispy pork belly, stir friend vegetables, and a pork broth soup with Chinese cabbage. Although I wasn’t very helpful with the cooking, I truly enjoyed the meal and appreciated the company of my friends. Through this I realised just how much I missed home and that I should spend more time with my family once I return to Hong Kong. I wonder if you feel the same way as I do?
Finally I wish you all a belated Happy Chinese New Year 恭喜發財 (Kung Hei Fat Choi/Gong Xi Fa Cai), may all your wishes come true this year and the many years to come.
Brandy Chu 6.2