SU students and the community celebrated the Year of the Snake, a Chinese tradition, on Thursday in the Ceddia Union Building MPR.
The Asian Extravaganza featured live snakes, a spread of cultural food, dancers from Dance China New York, and many more Asian-themed activities.
The event, held by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and SU’s student-run Asian-American Organization, focused on more than Chinese tradition. Display boards about varying Asian regions, like Cambodia/Thailand, Mongolia/Russia, Vietnam/Laos and West Asia, explained art, tradition and history in each of the areas.
Cuisine also demonstrated the different flavors of Asia-sushi, lo mein, rice, chicken dishes, vegetables — each from distinct native countries, was served buffet style for attendees.
Tuan Pham, president of the Asian American Organization, said most of the food was donated from Chartwells, the campus food provider. Other dishes were contributed from Mei Lin’s House and other Asian restaurants — a way Pham said the community was involved.
The senior said that was the purpose of the event, “to share culture with the community.”
The Asian-American Organization attends the East Coast Asian-American Student Union in the beginning of each spring semester, which is held in different cities every year. Pham said 2013 was held at Columbia University, and the trip is one of the activities the group does to celebrate Asian tradition.
The Year of the Snake was the organization’s annual event to educate students, faculty and friends of the university in Asian tradition.
Dance China New York, a group that has many years working with the Asian-American Organization performed several dances. Some involved props such as fans and swords, which made each performance authentic.
The Central PA Belly Dancers also performed, bringing into the mix an Indian vibe.
Live snakes at the event, like a ball python and a Honduran milk snake, were able to be handled by attendees. This offered perspective to students who as Americans may hold a stigma against the reptiles.
Students Ryley Behm and Amber Sherrock had just held a snake and shared why they came to the event.
“We had a professor last semester, and again this semester, who is from an Asian country,” Behm said. “He suggested we come check it out. We came for the cultural experience.”
Henna tattoos, a traditional Indian ink decoration, were also offered at the extravaganza.
The theme, Year of the Snake, represents the Chinese New Year, which differs from America’s tradition in that it is celebrated on a different date each year.
According to chinesenewyears.info, this is because the day is based on a Chinese lunisolar calendar, different from the solar calendar to which Americans are accustomed. This simply means that the phases of the moon are emphasized opposed to the sun; therefore, the calendars do not match up, and the Chinese New Year changes days.
Each year corresponds to one of 12 different animals — horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon and snake, though the dragon is a mythical creature, not an animal. In that order, the year is named, each with tradition and symbolism behind the title.
This year, the Year of the Snake, was celebrated in a big way at SU’s Asian Extravaganza.