Students honor Chinese New Year with food and cultural performances

The Dorothy Marvin Betts Theatre came alive Friday night as the Chinese American Student Association celebrated Chinese New Year with colorful silk, tasty food and cultural performances.

The organization’s second annual New Year’s celebration featured traditional Chinese crafts, food and entertainment.

The Chinese New Year was celebrated Feb. 5. The date changes every year because the Chinese follow the lunar calendar, said Jenni Suen, president of CASA.

Before the performance portion of the evening, members of CASA helped those in attendance with Chinese calligraphy and cutting paper. A food table also displayed Chinese dishes traditionally eaten at New Year’s.

The evening began with a performance by the Troubadours and was hosted by Anthony Rizzuto and Ni-Cheng Liang, both clad in Chinese silk. The group wore red in honor of the Chinese belief that the color represents festivities and fire, warding off evil spirits.

CASA members provided a Lion Dance and a Chinese yo-yo demonstration along with other traditional exhibitions and shows. The Lion Dance is said to scare away evil spirits and bring good luck to all for the New Year. Kenneth Lee and Chien Chow delighted the almost-full auditorium with variations and tricks on the Chinese yo-yo, a centuries-old cultural art.

The Fairfax Chinese Dance Troupe, a non-profit amateur group, also livened up the evening with an ethnic fashion show and other traditional dances.

We tried to provide different cultural performances, Suen said.

Suen and other members stressed the heritage aspect of the celebration.

It’s very traditional, sophomore Mary Chang said. It’s the background we come from.

Senior Marcus Sgro, who put together the program for the evening, shared Chang’s opinion.

It was a traditional thing, he said. Since 3000 B.C. the Chinese have had these traditions.

Raffle tickets were distributed in a hongbao, or red envelope. Suen said this is a custom that brings fortune and luck. Children and employees traditionally receive money in the envelopes for the Lunar New Year.

Suen, who said the planning for this event started three months ago, said volunteers put in a lot of time to make the celebration come out the way it did.

It was a good turnout, she said. I was very happy with it. I hope that people took something away, something more than just a raffle prize. We had a good time doing it.

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