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Chinese New Year Gala hits UW-River Falls

February 25, 2015

A Chinese New Year Gala will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, in the North Hall Auditorium to help celebrate the Chinese New Year.

The Chinese New Year Gala is an event that was inspired by the “New Year’s Gala,” a television program that is shown in China during the New Year celebrations, according to Alex Hatheway, liaison to the students from the Zhejiang International Studies University (ZISU).

“Basically it’s a four, maybe five, hour program of musical, variety and comedy acts,” Hathaway said. “It’s a really, really big spectacle.”

When Hatheway heard that UWRF was having a Year of China he thought the Chinese New Year Gala would be a good way to ring in the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year Gala will be a scaled down version of the television program that is usually show in China, according to Hatheway.

“We’ve been showing a lot of Chinese culture here. We’ve had calligraphy; we’ve had paper-cutting and stuff like that,” Hatheway said. “I wanted to show people something that was a fairly recent addition to Chinese culture.”

The Gala is a free event, open to the public, and it will be a night of singing, dancing and comedy. Hatheway said that people who attend the Gala can also learn about the history of the Chinese New Year.

The Chinese New Year is one of the most important holidays in China, according to Alex Peng, a graduate student from Guangzhou, China. According to chinesenewyears.info, the date of the New Year is determined by the lunar calendar and the start of the New Year was Feb. 19. The start of the New Year is different each year.

Peng said some people celebrate the New Year for seven days, and according to chinesenewyear.info, the New Year celebrations can last for 15 days. Peng said people are usually off from work and school so it’s a time for families to gather together.

“It’s sort of like, in comparison to the Western cultures, it’s easier to understand the Chinese New Year as like Christmas and New Years all together,” Peng said.

Peng said the animals of the Chinese zodiac, for which the years are named after, don’t really play any other specific role in the New Year but he said there is some folklore that is tied to animals of the Chinese New Year.

“We do have a saying, that if you are born in the year of the sheep and it’s the year of the sheep, you may be less fortunate than others,” Peng said.

Other Chinese New Year traditions include cleaning the house before the New Year, having a Chinese New Year’s dinner and setting off fireworks at the start of the New Year. Peng said married couples also hand out “lucky money” to children during the Chinese New Year.

This year also happens to be the Year of China at UWRF, so there are multiple events that will be happening throughout the semester. A calendar of the Year of China events can be found at: www.uwrf.edu/YearOf/China.cfm.