SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – The “Year of the Rabbit,” marked as Chinese New Year for 2011 on the Chinese calendar, will be celebrated by Slippery Rock University’s Chinese Culture Association, the Modern China Center, the Asian Studies Program and the College of Health, Environment and Science at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, at the Slippery Rock Township Community Center.
The program will feature a lion dance, spring festival and interactive activities, a door-prize drawing and a Chinese food lunch, including fried rice and spring roll, provided by local Chinese restaurants.
Robert Smith, SRU president will provide a welcome, and Qiao Chen, a Grove City High School senior, will introduce those attending to the customs of the “Spring Festival,” another name given the celebration.
Students in Ying Zhou’s class will sing “Happy New Year” and “Gong Xi Fa Cai.” Zhou is a visiting professor from Nanjing University in China, teaching Chinese.
Wei Bian, SRU assistant professor of physical education and program organizer, will lead Chinese character games. Wenhao Liu, associate professor of physical education at SRU, will sing in Chinese.
Children ages 12 and under will receive a “Red Packet” and will play the interactive game “The 12 Animals New Year Celebration.” The rabbit is the fourth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.
The “Lion Dance,” performed in a two-person costume, will be part of the festivities, Bian said. “This is always part of a traditional New Year’s celebration.” Many believe the loud drum and cymbal sounds along with the aggressive dancing of the lion evict bad or evil spirits.
The Steel Dragon KungFu and Lion Dance Group from Pittsburgh will perform the dance.
The Chinese New Year, also known as the “Lunar New Year” or “Spring Festival” is considered one of the most important Chinese holidays, Bian said. The actual celebration runs 15 days, starting with a family reunion dinner, this year on Feb. 2, and ending with a “Lantern Festival” Feb. 17.
Bian said the actual celebration varies widely, but is celebrated throughout most of Asia as an official holiday. Customs include buying presents, decorating, food and special clothing.
Some families thoroughly clean their homes, sweeping away ill-fortune and hopefully bringing in luck for the coming year.
“The Chinese New Year tradition is a great way to reconcile, forget all grudges, and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone,” Bian said.
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