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15 January 2008

Lancaster Campus celebrates Chinese New Year on Feb. 2

Oranges, peanuts and sunflower seeds, cookies, candy, dancing and musical performances – these everyday items and artistic expressions take on spiritual and historical significance during Chinese New Year observations.

In keeping with HACC’s tradition of celebrating cultural riches of the region, the second annual Chinese New Year Celebration at the Lancaster Campus will be held from noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2. This free, family event will be held in Room 203 of the East Building of the campus, 1641 Old Philadelphia Pike.

Activities celebrating 2008 as the Year of the Rat include traditional foods and music and dance symbolic of the Chinese culture. Select members of the Hempfield High School Chinese language class will perform and bring posters with information about China. Performances also include Chinese traditional fold dances by a group of women who have diligently practiced the art for the past year.

Harry Kao, executive director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian American Affairs, will present good wishes from Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

In keeping with the spirit of educating the community about Chinese traditions, children who attend the event will be given “hong bao,” a red envelope with a one-dollar bill that represents good fortune.

More than 150 people attended the 2007 Chinese New Year Celebration, said Sue Gao, who anticipates a larger turnout this year. Gao, an associate professor of ESL/counseling at the Lancaster Campus, is one of the event organizers. She said the celebration will include an announcement that the Lancaster Chinese Association has been approved as a new organization by the Pennsylvania Department of State Corporation Bureau. The nonprofit group’s mission is to promote Chinese culture and encourage membership, said Gao, who is LCA vice president.

The partnership between the local Chinese community and the Lancaster Campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is a natural, said Christina Oscsodal, Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs at the campus.

“HACC Lancaster is interested in partnering with groups within our community,” Oscsodal explained. “Members of the Lancaster Chinese community were interested in working with HACC to provide a facility and resources for their New Year Celebration.”

The result was last year’s inaugural celebration, with the campus embracing it as an annual multicultural celebration open to the public and campus community, she added. “Multicultural celebrations at HACC provide an opportunity to enjoy the richness that a variety of cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds bring to the community,” Oscsodal said.

Among the various foods will be oranges, which are symbols for abundant happiness; peanuts, which are symbols of long life, and sticky cakes (nian gao), which are symbols of a more prosperous new year.

For more information, call the Lancaster Campus at 358-2263.

Fast facts about Chinese New Year
According to legend, Buddha asked the animals to attend the Chinese New Year. A dozen showed up, with each one designated its own year. Buddha announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have characteristics of that animal’s personality.

For example, people born during the Year of the Rat tend to be leaders, conquerors and pioneers, who are charismatic, practical, hardworking and passionate. Among those born under this sign are Shakespeare, Mozart, Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck.

The Chinese New Year is the longest and most important event in the Chinese calendar. Since the Chinese months are beholding to the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day, the New Year festivity traditionally begins on the first day of the month and continues until the 15th day, at which time the moon is the brightest. For this reason, the holiday begins on a different day each year. This year, the holiday begins on Feb. 7.

Find out about Chinese New Year.

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