Celebrations are underway today (Saturday) at Drake University to mark the start of the Chinese New Year — following China’s lunar calendar. Des Moines resident and Chinese native Ying Sa has lived in Iowa since 1996 and says she’s excited about the new year ahead — the year of the Rooster. The year of the rooster means optimism and looking forward to the future, as the rooster itself is the first to rise each day to greet the sun. Sa says the Chinese New Year actually arrives on Wednesday, February 9th, but the parties are already underway both before and after during the season. She says this holiday is as important to Chinese natives as Christmas is to many Americans, though she says there’s a key difference. Sa says the Chinese don’t focus on presents — giving or receiving gifts or shopping. It’s not commercialized and the sense of celebration isn’t lost. About the only gifts are those of firecrackers, sunflower seeds or peanuts. She says it’s a time to gather with family and friends and look ahead to the coming year with happiness and good cheer. She says Chinese New Year is always an event where everyone greets each other and wishes them prosperity with much hope in the air. The celebration at Drake today includes dancing, food, special art and decorations, a tea pot exhibit, a Chinese costume show and a shortened Beijing opera. New Year events are also planned for Friday, February 11th, at Central College in Pella. For more information, surf to “www.iowachinese.org”.
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