As a child growing up in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the world’s largest Chinatown outside of the Orient, the excitement of celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year is equal to Christmas and New Year’s Eve rolled into one! The Lunar New Year celebration (also known as the Spring Festival) lasts two weeks with days of preparation beforehand. Families spend literally days cleaning the house, shopping for food, shopping for new clothes, cooking and cooking and paying off debts to start the new year on “the right foot.”
Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra, along with community members Kwong Chew of Asia and Nikko Wu of the Stonehouse, is pleased to bring this centuries-old cultural celebration to our community. Several CATS board members grew up in the San Francisco and Sacramento Chinese communities, while Kwong grew up in Singapore, and Nikko has her roots in Taiwan. Collectively, we all have fond memories of celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year, and thanks to our generous sponsors, we are able to bring this spirit to Nevada City Sunday.
The Chinese tend to be a superstitious people, and their actions — more so this time of the year — are symbolic in setting the course right for a prosperous new year. This marks the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Snake, 4711, which began Feb. 10 (Gregorian calendar).
The New Year is the most popular holiday in China and in many Asian countries. Many in China migrate back home this time of the year to usher in the new year with their loved ones. Many Chinese in America today, for generations, have continued this rich tradition of celebrating families, friendship and food during the Lunar New Year.
The celebration kicks off at the Robinson Plaza (located at the base of Commercial and Broad streets) at noon with traditional Chinese lion dancing performed by Eastern Ways Martial Arts of Sacramento. The Lions will perform a centuries-old dance to “ward off evil spirits” and bring prosperity to all. It will feature “safe and sane” firecrackers and thunderous drums and gongs! The Lions will “bless” adjacent local businesses (the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce and Lotus Mountain), and there will be an opportunity to learn the dance. Robinson Plaza is just a “skip, hop and a jump” from the old Chinese Quarter on Commercial Street, where in the 1800s, there were thousands of Chinese immigrants who inhabited the Sierra foothills, working in the mines and building the Central Pacific Railroad.
Our Chinese ancestors here would surely be proud of this historic occasion! We thank the following sponsors who are truly partners in culture and history. They are the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, Lotus Mountain, New Moon Café, Judi’s of Nevada City, Rotary Club of Nevada City, Anonymous, Café Mekka, Bonanza Gift Shop, Xiao Mao (Little CATS) Culture Club, the Ohmann Family, Health Alternatives for All Locals, Sierra Commons and special thanks to the city of Nevada City.
Festivities continue from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Stonehouse with food for sale by Kwong Chew of Asia, traditional Chinese dance and tea ceremony by Lily Zhu, martial arts by Body Balance, mahjong workshop, Art for the Heart exhibit and auction by Anthony Emmolo, calligraphy demonstration by Miyu Tamamura, arts and crafts for children, Chinese culture slide show, face painting and more!
Admission to both venues is free. Bring the whole family! Questions? Please call 530-265-2990 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. See http://catsweb.org. Gung Hay Fat Choy (Cantonese) or Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) — wishing you prosperity in the new year!
Jeannie Wood is the executive director of CATS.