On Monday, April 10, 2017, Wenzhou-Kean University Student Association (WKUSA) celebrated the Qingming Festival by the grassy field between Wilkins Theatre and Vaughn-Eames. WKUSA had many kites and food prepared for the kite flying activity from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Qingming Festival, or known as Tomb Sweeping Day in English, happened on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, but WKUSA celebrated with Kean University students by going outside, having a picnic and flying kites.
Traditionally, it is a day for Chinese people to remember and honor their ancestors at grave sites. They pray before their ancestors, sweep the tombs, burn joss paper and offer food, tea and wine to the ancestors. It is also a time for many activities, among which the main ones are going outside during the spring season, having a picnic and flying a kite.
In other words, the Qingming Festival is a time for family to be together.
Originally, the event was planned to take place on Thursday, April 6, 2017, but because of the rain, it was moved to Monday.
Luckily, the sun and beautiful breeze welcomed the students on that day. There were drinks and “cold-foods,” such as sandwiches, chips, jelly and candy that were offered to students. The reason why the term cold-foods is used is because traditionally, during Qingming Festival, people in China would go clean the tombstones of their loved ones while they prepare and eat food that they cannot cook immediately.
“Qing” means clear and “Ming” means bright. Put together, it means “Pure Brightness Festival.” The way to write in Chinese characters is 清明节 and the romanized way to pronounce the festival is qīngmíng jié. The Qingming Festival is one of the 24 segments of the Chinese calendar.
WKUSA had DIY kites that students could decorate and color themselves, as well as pre-decorated kites to fly. The day was perfectly windy enough to have the kites fly, so everyone had to run and get their kite up.
Students from the Asian studies program, International Student Association (ISA), Wenzhou-Kean and Union-Kean came by to just lie down on the grass, relax and enjoy the weather. Every student who attended was given a WKUSA blanket that folded into a bag. Some students decided to use it immediately and gather around to chill with each other.
Diane Loegel, junior psychology major and criminal justice minor, is the president of ISA and was happy to be able to make it to the event.
“I really liked [the Qingming Festival], because I thought it was a fun and culturally interesting activity,” said Loegel. “I felt WKUSA organized this event well.”
Some music major students who were at the event brought out their ukuleles and guitars and sang acoustic versions of music, such as “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.
WKUSA wanted to take this opportunity to invite students from both campuses to experience this festival as a time of reflection and give thanks to those who are important to them by sending a heartfelt message on the kite. In addition to writing and decorating the kite, students were able to keep the kite for themselves.
“The festival was a good cultural experience and [the kite flying] reminded me of my childhood,” said Isa Wachira, sophomore global business major.
This was a very important event for WKUSA because they were able to bring a part of their culture to Kean University, and it was so special that non-Wenzhou students participated and had fun.
Ken Lin, graduate public administration major student from Wenzhou-Kean, said, “[Qingming Festival] lets Americans know more about traditional Chinese culture.”
WKUSA is looking forward to make themselves feel more at home by having more events at Kean University.
Joanna Kristine Ninal, Staff Writer