Year of the Earth Pig with Colorado Springs Chinese Cultural Institute
“With each passing moment, let us embrace the New Year with a brighter, more colorful, and more joyous future. Happy New Year! ”
Celebrating New Year’s Day poetically encourages a 360 degree view of reality. Its presence naturally creates an added dimension to the typical holiday reflections. Instead of only remembering the past, we also realize what currently is and what could potentially be. In America, the New Year is like a 4th of July-Thanksgiving-Halloween-Birthday—a firework laced celebration for ourselves in which we are grateful to have lived and also, we dress up. Aside from the politics of science and, well, all politics in general, the New Year is a holiday celebrated worldwide.
*FUN FACT* Did you know March 1st was the original New Year’s Day? The American New Year celebrations on January 1st are actually 267 years young.
New Year in China is also a mixture of traditions! The 15 day celebration known as the Spring Festival (because of the date on which it begins) features special wishes, songs, dances, foods, and clothing. Decorative red lanterns are created by families weeks before the Spring Festival to symbolize luck, health, and happiness, as well as setting the mood for a prosperous year. More globally popularized is the last day of the Spring Festival, which comes to a close with the same red lanterns. This epic night consists of the lanterns being lit all across the country followed by amazing dragon dances, and of course, fireworks!
Those who attended CSCCI’s 18th Annual Chinese New Year Festival this past weekend were lucky enough to bring in the New Year for a second time. This event was held inside the City Auditorium across from City Hall (Downtown Colorado Springs) and I was instantly grateful for its location. The end of January is not exactly the best time for an outdoor festival. Admissions for students and military were discounted and parking could be found beside or behind the main building.
Upon arrival, I was greeted with the most noticeable, brightly decorated atmosphere and people to match. The festival was set up bazaar style, allowing those in attendance to explore the vendors freely without being overcrowded. Mouth-watering food stationed right around the edge of the main stage could be detected by nose alone (this was my first mission). Food could not be purchased in cash which I thought was strange, but on the bright side there were 3 vendor options to choose from.
Beautiful dance and a yo-yo performance on the main stage (by various martial arts and dance studios) were scheduled out every 30 mins or so. Pottery, delicious Hi-T snacks, and several martial arts demonstrations on the main floor were equally as alluring. *Side note: I did not have enough time to make any pottery, but I did watch a 4-year-old successfully craft a vase. Also, I had never had a Hi-T snack…may I say whoa! Super tasty—reminded me of a wafer cookie without the frosting.
Overall, this was a memorable experience. I would highly recommend it to anyone who thoroughly enjoys cultural experiences and/or understands the depth and importance behind welcoming the New Year. If I could improve the festival at all, I would add a speaker or maybe a quick video highlighting background information for those who are not aware of the rich traditional aspects and intricacies of Chinese New Year. There is a lot to be known about the Chinese calendar, traditional dances, food, symbolism, and spiritual practices that were present in the program.
Photography provided by Hannah