Findlay First Church of the Nazarene celebrates Chinese New Year

Chinese culture will be expressed in an evening of dancing, martial arts and singing 

By Lauren Wolters,

On Sunday, Feb. 11, many Americans prepared food and gathered to watch the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers. However, another event characterized by food and gatherings of families, friends and communities also occurred on Sunday; This other event is the Chinese New Year, which began Saturday, Feb. 10.  

Dr. Fang Wang, Assistant Professor of Communication and Director of the Master of Arts in Professional Communication Program, spoke about the national holiday in an email interview. 

It is the biggest national holiday in China, like Christmas in United States,” Dr. Wang said. “It lasts seven to fifteen days until the Lantern Festival (the fifteen day of the new year, Feb. 24 this year).” 

The Findlay First Church of the Nazarene hosted a celebration for the Chinese New Year on Sunday February 11 from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dr. Wang was just one of several University of Findlay faculty that attended the event. Dr. Lok Chong Lew Yan Voon, Dean of the College of Science; Dr. Heather Yu, Professor of Physics, Dr. Xu Lu: Professor of Biology were also in attendance. 

Pastor Yuanzhu Jin, the Chinese Pastor at Findlay First Church of the Nazarene, is the director for the whole event. He began to plan and encourage people to attend the celebration about a month and a half ago.  

“We have about a dozen shows [planned],” Pastor Jin said in an email interview. “[Among these] there are traditional dances, Chinese martial arts, piano playing and children singing. These are Chinese people who live in Findlay and are not professionals. But for this festival, everyone gets together to prepare a show.” 

According to Pastor Jin, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene has had a Chinese ministry (Chinese language worship service) since 2013 and has always supported Chinese community activities in many ways. The ministry has been hosting a Chinese New Year celebration since 2017, except 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19. 

“There are three sessions in this event: performance, potluck and door prices,” Pastor Jin said. “What I’m looking forward to most is the children’s performance because there are not many opportunities for Chinese kids to show Chinese culture like this in the United States. Through this opportunity, children can also learn more about their own traditional festivals.” 

Last year Findlay First Church of the Nazarene saw about 60 people in attendance at the Chinese New Year celebration. Pastor Jin expected a similar attendance or even more at this year’s event. 

“China is a collectivistic culture,” Dr. Wang said. “People value extended family and community. Paying visits to all family members if they can [during the holiday], is important.” 

Dr. Wang also mentioned other traditions of the Chinese New Year besides reunion and performance of families and friends. One such tradition is giving money in red envelopes to children, parents and grandparents. According to China Highlights, the red color symbolizes energy, happiness and good fortune in Chinese culture. The envelopes are also decorated with Chinese calligraphy and symbols. The Chinese belief is that the red envelopes will bring good luck and prosperity to those that receive them. 

Dr. Wang also mentioned another tradition of the Chinese New Year, which includes hanging red paper couplets from doorways, walls or windows for people to make wishes for the upcoming year. According to Chineasy, couplets are red paper strips with black or golden characters written on top. 

On Feb. 24, the new year celebration will end with the Lantern Festival, where Chinese homes are decorated with colorful lanterns. According to CNN, the lanterns symbolize driving out darkness and bringing hope to a new year. 

The celebration on Feb. 11 is just one of many events Findlay First Church of the Nazarene holds for the Chinese community of Findlay. 

“Findlay First Church of the Nazarene always supports the Chinese community,” Pastor Jin said. “On the first Sunday evening of every month, the Chinese community will gather at Nazarene Church to have a potluck. Also, every Sunday afternoon the church will open the gym for Chinese people to come and have various activities.”