This Friday, the basement of Shaw Hall will transform into a bustling Temple Fair for MSU students and community members. The annual Chinese New Year event is known for its exciting performances, cultural activities and free food. This year is expected to be the biggest yet as the event celebrates 2018, “The Year of the Dog.”
OISS sat down with Tong Tong, the president of MSU’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association to learn more about the upcoming festival.
OISS: Temple Fair has quickly become a favorite event among students and scholars alike. When did the event first happen at MSU and how long does it take to plan a celebration this large?
Tong Tong: CSSA has been holding the Temple Fair since 2015. It will be our fourth year hosting the event and cooperating with MSU REHS and MSU Culinary Services. The planning process started in October 2017. Our E-Board members have had meetings with RHS and the chef of Shaw Hall Dining Room every two weeks. Approximately 100 members of CSSA have been involved in this event!
OISS: What do you think makes this event so well-loved by so many people?
Tong Tong: In past years, we’ve had 2,000-3,000 attendees, so the event is always very popular. The Temple Fair is a traditional event during the Spring Festival since the ancient time. People will gather in temples and enjoy the classical Chinese foods and performances. This is the time for people to experience the traditional culture, appreciate the past and bring blessings for the future. It’s quite difficult for Chinese students to taste traditional Chinese foods in the U.S. Faculty of Shaw Dining Hall try their best to provide some famous Chinese snacks for people joining the Temple Fair.
OISS: Can you talk a bit about how celebrating the Chinese New Year in the U.S. is different from celebrating back home?
Tong Tong: There are some China Towns in some big cities in the U.S. Chinese communities there will usually hold a New Year Parade. Traditionally, Chinese families will return to their hometowns and prepare a New Year’s Eve Dinner, which might be the most sumptuous meal of the whole year; children will also receive lucky money from elders. However, as students studying abroad, we do not have holidays and cannot have a reunion with our families. Instead, it’s usually the period for the first mid-term exams. We can only celebrate with our friends here, prepare a simple dinner, put Spring Couplets on the door, and keep studying hard.
OISS: What types of activities and performances will people see at the Fair?
Tong Tong: We will have fun games including simple but interesting shuttlecock and marbles; classic table tennis picking and ferrule; challenging iron hoop rolling and beanbag game; super hard baguenaudier, interlocked and chess pieces, etc. waiting for you to challenge. What’s more, there are mysterious guests joining the wonderful performances, such as calligraphy display, magic show, photo booth, and lots of surprise gifts to celebrate the festival!
OISS: Everyone always talks about the amazing food. Can you tell us what type of dishes attendees will be able to try?
Tong Tong: There is delicious food like rice dumplings (bean and sesame); Tang Hulu; Tea eggs; pork fried rice, etc. waiting for you to taste. Food will be served at 5 p.m. and is free for everyone!
OISS: Sounds good! Finally, who do you hope to see at the Temple Fair this Friday?
Tong Tong: This event is open to all MSU community members, including students, scholars, professors, school officials, university staff, and their families. We hope people from all communities can join us and enjoy this special event!
Taylor Mackey is currently a senior at Michigan State and the OISS Communications intern. Taylor studies English and Advertising with an emphasis on digital marketing. She also serves as a Student Intern-Ambassador for the Community Relations Coalition, an area nonprofit that works to bridge the gap between the city of East Lansing and MSU.