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The Student News Site of Presque Isle High School

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The Student News Site of Presque Isle High School

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A different February break

Xavier Peng
Fireworks light up the sky for the Chinese New Year.

As the February Break of PIHS ends, students have come back from resorts, tourist attractions, or just the home sweet home where they’ve finally got to spend as much time as they want. Although most of us might have shared similar experiences, a few of us have celebrated something memorable and undoubtedly unique around the time of February Break–the Chinese New Year.

It’s known to all that Maine isn’t the most diverse state of the U.S., not to mention the POC population in our rural town of Presque Isle. Yet every year, the celebration of Chinese New Year (or some might refer to as the Spring Festival), the most significant festival in Chinese and even all Asian culture, serves as a thread to connect the handful of Asian households in Presque Isle.

The Chinese New Year was scheduled according to the annual lunar calendar, which was invented thousands of years ago. 2024 is the year of the Dragon (or Loong). In ancient times, Chinese people would do all kinds of activities to celebrate the coming of lunar new year. Some of the most interesting traditions include setting off firecrackers, giving or receiving Red Packets (with money enclosed) and pasting couplets with expectations and blessings of the new year written on the door. A big family dinner is a must, as well.

I’ve come back to my hometown in China to have a fully authentic experience of Chinese New Year, as I missed the event last year. The biggest temple in the town where my father grew up was filled with people just minutes after the New Year has arrived. Everyone wanted to be the first of the year to ask for blessings and good luck from the statues of Chinese gods in the temple. (Xavier Peng)

“This year we had a big Hot Pot dinner,” Cathleen Chen ’25 said. “We always have them in our restaurant [Mai Thai], so when some customers pass by, they get curious about our food and ask us what we’re celebrating.” She also went on and talked about videos of Chinese New Year-themed parades that she’s seen on Wechat, a Chinese social platform that we eventually added each other on by the end of our discussion. Fiona Wu ’25 also had a wonderful time this year with an absolute feast as shown in the picture below.

Fiona Wu ’25 had a huge dinner to celebrate this year’s Chinese New Year.

“Some people would ask me about the cultural traditions around the New Year, which was super fun because they wanted to learn about it!” She also mentioned that in a town where only a few celebrate the festival, people’s curiosity could be really surprising and nice. It’s amazing to see that even in places such as Presque Isle, there are still people who try their best to carry on cultural traditions.

Next February Break, maybe you can also add a little celebration of Chinese New Year to your calendar and be a part of an ancient historical event.

Mahjong is also one of the most popular activity during Chinese New Year. It’s a more complex version of poker but it’s more fun in my opinion. (Xavier Peng)
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