Lunar new year: event offers ‘Taste of China’

BY D.J. OCHOA

During February, Tucsonans can indulge themselves in an assortment of holidays.

One celebration comes from the eastern hemisphere, China, which celebrates its new year.

The Tucson Chinese Cultural Center rang in the new year Feb. 5 by offering activities for the entire family.

Unlike western celebrations, China celebrates its new year for 15 days, due to the lunisolar calendar.

The calendar is divided into 12 signs, similar to zodiac signs, each represented by a different animal. This year marks the year of the rabbit.

“People who share this sign are entertaining, wise and carefree,” emcee Tina Liao said.

During the two-week celebration, red clothing is a fashionable color because it brings good luck and fortune.

At the Feb. 5 celebration, volunteers greeted visitors entering the cultural center, ready to guide them through each activity.

Some activities were mainly for children, such as arts and crafts, jumping castles and interactive games.

Children playing games filled a center room. Along a wall, vendors sold authentic Chinese goods such as jewelry. Food for sale included shrimp-flavored chips.

Grown-ups weren’t left out of the fun. Crowds enjoyed outdoor stage performances despite

cold conditions that afternoon.

Students from the Cultural Center performed a traditional Lion and Dragon dance.

A Chinese drum sounded as beginner and intermediate classes opened the dance. The advanced class performed a “drunken lion” dance, jumping off the stage and stumbling around to portray a lion that drank too much sake.

Liao said the event’s popularity continues to grow.

“When we first started this celebration five years ago, we were not very known but each year the crowds keep growing,” she said. “Many people who come are interested in Chinese culture, and we offer classes here at the Center to learn more.”

Liao believes food is a main attraction. Tents sold Chinese cuisine including Pork Mapo Tofu, Mu Shu Pork and Salt and Pepper Chicken.

“American people love to eat Chinese food and we make sure that we have different food from all over China,” Liao said with a laugh. “The people enjoy all the performances, but they love to come for the food.”

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