Chinese new year kicks off

Nearly 70 spectators turned out to watch dragons dance and Chinese warriors sword fight when the Chinese American Student Association celebrated the Chinese new year on the Quad Friday afternoon, said CASA President Jenni Suen.

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Suen, whose group sponsored the Lion Dance, which featured traditional Chinese performers displaying ancient dances, said she was impressed with the turnout at the event.

“This is a chance for us to introduce to the GW community what the Chinese new year is all about,” Suen said. “Traditions are designed to send good luck wishes to friends and family.”

She said that despite a tight budget, CASA generated sizable student interest.

“With our limited funds, we weren’t able to do anything more elaborate, but this was our first year, and I’m very happy,” Suen said. “People came up to us and asked us for more information about our organization and about the Chinese new year.”

CASA also sponsored events such as a traditional Chinese arts and crafts workshop Friday and a potluck dinner Sunday.

In honor of the year of the rabbit in 1999, students in the arts and crafts session made origami rabbits and ceremonial decorations.

CASA members said the decorations, made mostly in red, are a tradition for the annual new year’s celebration and are meant to scare away the mythical beast Nian.

Nian, which means “year” in modern Chinese, preyed on people new year’s eve. The legend says an elderly man approached Nian, challenging him to swallow all the beasts in the world rather than people. Nian swallowed all the animals that preyed on people and their domestic animals. The old man, an immortal god in disguise, rode away on the back of the beast. He told the Chinese to place red paper decorations on doors before the new year to ward off Nian, according to Global Information Central.

At GW, Suen and other CASA members made red paper decorations with good luck messages to display around campus to follow the tradition.

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