Chinese New Year: a colorful and cultural time of year

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Dillon Gillespie / Sun Star

The Lion Dance, a spectacle of color and strength, was the main event at the UAF Chinese New Year.

“The Lion Dance represents New Beginnings,” Rosalind Kan, Chinese teacher and adviser of the school’s Chinese association for over 20-years, said.

New beginnings, good fortune and family are all part of the premise of the Chinese New Year festival. Known also as the Lunar Festival or Spring Festival, the falls on the new moon of the new year, from Jan. 21-Feb. 20.

A celebration centuries old, the Chinese used the Lunar Festival to honor deities and ancestors. Traditionally, people would clean their homes the space to invite good fortune. Families gather the night before to help celebrate this occasion. Red couplets, which are decorative pieces of poetry, and red paper-cuts are used to decorate for good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity.

The Chinese Association brought many traditions to this year’s event. Just 30 minutes into the evening, the Ballroom, covered in red, was crowded with close to 300 adults and children.

The aroma of over 30 different Chinese dishes set for dinner filled the room as people began lining up to feast. The moment people start to move, you should move too because the food always sells out, said Don Gray, a guest at the event.

This combination of food, friends and family is exactly what the association and their volunteers look forward too.

“I like to introduce this very special festival to our international friends” Heming Liao, president of the Chinese Association,  said, as he welcomed people.

Wu Zhao, who has attended this event for the past 3 years, said this evening was special as it reminded him of home and their families in China. To Zhao it’s as if they are all one big family.

“It’s kind of like Christmas for Americans,” Kan Rosalind said. The celebration is a time for people to come together before the new year. She wants all the attendees to enjoy themselves and the contact with the Chinese culture.

Rosalind started the program by thanking the sponsors and welcoming many of the officials including the Fairbanks major.

The children opened the show. With a display of Chinese aerobics, silly dances and Chinese New Year greeting they captured the hearts of the crowed.

Drums sounded and a new event began. A giant head of different colors, chimes, and tassels started from the entrance. Two men danced the beast around the room, showing both elegance and strength as they maneuvered the Lion’s head and body in a way that brought the creature to life.

Shanshan Li, vice president of the Chinese Association, concluded the night with thanks and wished everyone a happy new year.

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