Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo.

Chinese New Year begins Feb.16, and kicks off with the celebration of the Year of the Dog. Beaumont’s observances started early on Feb. 3 with revelry at the Event Centre in downtown.

More than 200 people gathered to feast on delicacies, watch dance performances, singing, violin concertos, and even a cello version of the Oogway Ascending Theme from Kung Fu Panda celebrating Eastern and Western Chinese themes.

The Chinese Association of Southeast Texas has been hosting New Year’s events for 26 years in Beaumont.

  “We are celebrating Chinese New Year by displaying Chinese heritage,” event supporter Grace Liu Anderson said. “We celebrate by making and serving traditional food, music, dancing, with some modern interpretations.”

The celebration showcased around 20 different performances and more than 30 participants. Anderson and her children performed at the event, with Anderson performing the first movement of a famous Chinese violin concerto called the “Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto.”

“The Chinese Association of Southeast Texas, and donations, are mainly responsible for funding and bringing the celebration to Beaumont,” Anderson said. “Our goal each year is to share our traditions with the community here and for our culture to be remembered and recognized.”

Beaumonters Julio De Leon and Matthew Lambert went to the celebration for the first time. 

“This was both our first time coming to the celebration for us both and we are glad we came,” De Leon said. “The $10 to get in was well worth the entire experience. This is a beautiful celebration because, I dig all of the decorations, time and effort put into this. I really enjoyed the dance performances. Those kids are talented. I wish I could dance like that.” 

Lambert said the food was his favorite thing.

“The food was so good that it made me want to call my momma,” Lambert said. “I originally heard about the event through a friend at work. I was forwarded the Facebook event page. I’ve always had an interest in different cultures and their history so I figured I would check out a New Year’s event different from what I’m use to celebrating. I told Julio about it and we decided to come check it out. I don’t think we had any real idea what to expect. I really enjoyed myself though, and I will be going next year.”

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, or simply the Lunar New Year, is an important festival marking the start of the new year. It begins on the second new moon after the Winter Solstice and ending on the full moon 15 days later. It is marked by visits to family and friends, special meals, fireworks, and gift giving.

The story of Chinese New Year is steeped in legend. One legend is that thousands of years ago a monster named Nian (“Year”) would attack villagers at the beginning of each new year. It was discovered that the monster was afraid of loud noises, bright lights, and the color red, so those discoveries were used to chase the beast away, and now they are used in celebration. 

The celebration ushers out the old year and bring forth the luck and prosperity of the new one. Young people are given money in colorful red envelopes. In addition, Chinese New Year is a time to feast, visit family members and honor those who have passed. 

For more information, email the association of Chinese Students & Scholars at Lamar University at caostbeaumont @gmail.com.

Story by Antonio Del Rio, UP contributor

Learn more about Lamar University at lamar.edu

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