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Celebrating the Year of the Ox

Story by Eloise Holland. Photos by Jerry Hart.

Trina Hing, Instructor

Trina Hing, Instructor

Seven years ago, a small group of community members gathered to celebrate the Asian New Year at PCC’s Southeast Center. This year, close to 400 people are expected to attend the 2009 Year of the Ox celebration.

Hosted by PCC students, faculty and staff, the Asian New Year celebration takes place on Monday, Feb. 16, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Legin Restaurant banquet room, 8001 SE Division. The event includes vendors, traditional performances and family activities. Food will be available for $1 and parking is free all day.

Trina Hing, who has taught English for Speakers of Other Languages at PCC for the past 28 years, has been involved in organizing the event since it began.

“This period is a time for people to relax and celebrate the year of toil,” said Hing, speaking about the traditional importance of the holiday. “It’s a time to reflect, looking back to the past and then looking to the future before going back to the fields of hard work.”

Asian New Year – also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival – begins on the first day of the first lunar month, lasts for 15 days and includes such traditions as the lion dance, the lantern festival, gift giving and travel to visit friends and family.  PCC’s event will have traditional Chinese singing and dancing, Obon dancers, Taiko drummers, kendo performances and a fashion show.

“The reason why we chose Presidents Day is that the public schools are closed,” said Hing. “That way, community can attend and our performances will include little kids.” Activities for children include face painting and learning how to use chopsticks. In addition to enjoying the performances, adults also will find plenty to do. One vendor will do traditional Chinese face reading, and another will translate American names into Chinese characters.

Trina Hing and student

Last year, to accommodate the growing number of attendees, organizers had to move the celebration from the Southeast Center’s great hall to the neighboring Legin Restaurant banquet hall.  Organizers like Hing are glad to see the event grow every year.

“That was our main goal, to involve the community in this very significant, most important holiday for these cultures. It’s educational awareness,” Hing said. She adds that the program changes each year so even those who came last year will be sure to see something new.

Brimming with symbolism, the decorations themselves are worth the trip. The color red, for example, is an auspicious color that represents joyful celebration. Noodle dishes – such as the pad Thai, which will be served – represent longevity. Wall hangings called couplets are adorned with such blessings as “Wishing you happiness” or “Wishing you wealth.”

For some, the Year of the Ox has particular meaning this year. According to the Chinese zodiac, those born under the sign of the ox are born leaders who inspire confidence in those around them. Newly sworn in U.S. President Obama was born in 1961, an ox year.

For more information visit the event website, or contact Jessica Vu at (503) 788-6262.


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