by Caelyn Buller
For the past 16 years, Glendale Community College has celebrated Chinese New Year in very traditional way. GCC’s own Dr. Bel Winemiller, a professor from the World Languages Department, has headed this project up.
“The Lunar New Year represents for the Asians what Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years celebrations represent for the Western world,” Winemiller said.
The New Year celebration lasts for 15 days, and is especially important in the Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese communities across the globe. They celebrate by eating delicacies, firework displays, traditional lion dances and trading gifts between friends and loved ones.
A different animal marks this celebration on the Asian calendar each year, the year of 2014 marks the year of the horse.
GCC celebrates the Chinese New Year in ways truly appreciating the Asian culture. The range of events GCC has planned for this celebration include: a fashion show, talent show, martial arts performance, as well as traditional dragon and lion dancers.
GCC will also be offering traditional Asian deserts from Asahi Bakery as well as traditional Asian cuisine such as eggrolls, entrees, and wontons from Gold Rice Express.
The event takes place today, Feb. 12, and has been extremely successful in GCC’s past bringing of students to see what Chinese New Year is all about.
“[Maricopa County Community College Distict] students who have had a chance to get exposed to international environments become more knowledgeable, have a desire to travel, and experience other cultures and languages, and feel intellectually more rounded in their view of our global society,” Winemiller said, explaining the importance of students exposing themselves to other cultural environments.
Celebrations around the Valley
The metropolitan area embraces Chinese New Year by celebrating Phoenix Chinese Week. This annual event takes place in downtown phoenix. Having taken place at the Chinese Cultural Center for many year the even has been moved to Margaret T. Hance Park. This even takes place Feb. 7-9.
Chinese New Year in traditional Asian cultures includes festivities such as lantern festivals, family gatherings, decorating with the color red to bring good luck to the New Year and a celebration of culture as a whole.
“I hope our Phoenix Chinese week festival will give you a memorable and joyful experience of the Chinese New Year,” president of the event, Eva Li said.
The event has many different activities celebrating the year of the horse, ranging from fine Asian cuisine, Chinese calligraphy, Tapipei Dragon boat displays, and the Chinese cultural booth displaying the culture of those countries celebrating the New Year.
A driving forced behind this event is the Phoenix Sister City committee. This group of people play an intricate role, as the mayor of each sister city sends delegates from their home cities. Leaders and educators are chose to help promote cross-culture opportunities.
For this event, official and artist from Chengdu, China came to Phoenix showing their appreciation of our cultural celebration for Chinese New Year.
Dignitaries kicked off the event with an exchange of a book from their city, representing an appreciation of our culture and in hopes of us learning the culture.
After the official opening of ceremonies, traditional performances were put on for the guest of the event.
A traditional Lion Dance with two lions was performed. This specific Lion Dance was a Southern Lion Dance. This particular form of Lion Dance is important, as it holds a traditional legend of a mythical monster called the Nian.
This dance is symbolic and is used to scare away the evil spirits and summon hood luck, especially in the New Year.
Another traditional performance during the opening ceremonies of this even were the traditional Schuanese opera. Originating from Phoenix’s sister city of Chengdu, this performance can range from traditional Chinese acrobatics to fancy marionette work.
At Phoenix Chinese Week the performers did two pieces, one of acrobatic contortionism and the other a marionette dance. These performers were a celebration of good health in the New Year.