Our Chinese Society, which is attended by not only Chinese boys, but boys of numerous nationalities including British, Japanese and Italian, was delighted to welcome Chief Executive of the Harpur Trust David Steadman to celebrate the year of the rat in traditional Chinese style. David, who spent the day in school shadowing boys, was treated to an array of typical New Year activities and pastimes. The sessions were kicked off by Lower Sixth Former David Chan, the President of the Chinese Society, who introduced the 12 zodiacs, focussing on the zodiac of the rat. Fifth Former Nikolai Sorokin then spoke about the story of the Chinese New Year, the beast, Nian, and explained why Chinese people wear red clothes, cook food and set off fireworks for New Year.

Upper Sixth Former Kaz Arai shared his Chinese Calligraphy expertise, starting with simple characters like ‘春’ (spring) and ‘福’ (happiness), which everyone was keen to try.

Mr Steadman, who was also joined by Deputy Head (Academic) Mr Baldock, tried his hand at calligraphy using a traditional brush. Upper Sixth Former Marco Ip made Chinese tea and a variety of Chinese snacks were prepared, which created a comfortable atmosphere for the speeches.

The boys also enjoyed Chinese New Year cake, Nian Gao. The pronunciation of Nian Gao sounds like ‘year high’, which symbolises the growth of children both in height as well as their fortunes and academic studies.

The boys also discussed the giving and receiving of red envelopes – a traditional activity at this festive time. Usually Chinese grandparents, parents and relatives give red envelopes as a symbol of good luck. Usually there is cash inside so children can save the money and/or buy things they need.

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