Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit in Durham

Eunice Wu

The Lantern Festival

I was lucky to have attended the Lantern Festival hosted by the Oriental Museum, which marked the end of the 15-day Year of the Rabbit celebrations. The Lantern Festival signals the first full moon of the new year’s lunar calendar and symbolises ideas of reunion and romance.

As a student from Hong Kong, it was wonderful to see people from all backgrounds enjoying the festivities of my culture. I even noticed a child wearing a traditional cheongsam (which translates to ‘long gown’)! The Oriental Museum was decked out in decorations, its ceiling adorned with paper lanterns which illuminated the place with a vibrant red. I was handed a red packet upon entry – in which I found a kind message of blessing.


I immediately made my way to the bottom floor as it was pertinent that I located the snacks. I had managed to get my hands on a fortune cookie, chocopie & a cup of lychee juice. While fortune cookies are often associated with Chinese cuisine, they have not in fact originated from the country, which is why they have been a new discovery for me since coming to the UK. I was, however, very intrigued by the buttery snack and its message of ‘you will be surrounded by true friends’.


Next, I opted for some crafting on the upper floor. We made our own red packets as well as little wooden bunnies. I loved how there were sheets with Chinese characters and their meanings for children to replicate on their red packet designs. Did you know that we sometimes print the character ‘福’(good fortune) upside down to represent ‘pouring out’ the good fortune? Naturally we tried to achieve this effect when designing our red packets. Of course, good fortune will be blessed upon you regardless of the direction you’ve written the character.

The p’ungmul performance.


On the night we also enjoyed a few performances including a saxophone solo, contemporary Chinese dance and p’ungmul — all by current Durham students. The p’ungmul, a traditional Korean percussion, left the strongest impression on me. Performers paraded down the corridors of the Oriental Museum to the beat of their drums, their colourful headdresses reflecting the lively atmosphere of the festival. The rhythmic drumming still echoed in my ears long after the performance came to a close.

Although we didn’t enjoy the full scope of the activities as some of them were children-oriented (I would’ve loved to take part in the dragon dance), our night ended in high spirits. The Lantern Festival had fostered the appreciation of languages, traditional performance arts, board games and food associated with the Year of the Rabbit. I’m excited to see continuous growth in the diversity of cultures in Durham!

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Eunice Wu

Hello! My name’s Eunice and I've recently graduated with psychology from South College. I’m also a first-generation university student from Hong Kong. As a student, I was actively involved in societies such as PalTV and Disney Society. I'm now studying for a master's in London.

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