Chinese New Year celebrated at Longmont's Silver Creek High School
By John Bear, Staff Writer, Times-Call
Members of Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu turned the gymnasium inside Longmont's Silver Creek High School into a cacaphony of drums and dancing lions on Saturday afternoon to celebrate Chinese New Year.
At the conclusion of the dance, the "lions" tossed greens at the crowd, and it's considered good luck to get hit by them.
"Chinese New Year is very traditional," said Qui Liu, who was serving Ripe Puerh tea at a table. "When we are growing up, it is probably the most important holiday for every Chinese person."
Liu said that Chinese New Year, which happened on Feb. 5, can be a week long celebration, and in China it marks the beginning of the agricultural season. (The holiday follows the lunar calendar, so it is never on the same day, year to year.)
He said that in the northern part of the country, people will mark the occasion with dumplings. In the south, people eat Yuan Xiao, a dessert made from rice flour.
For the most part, the holiday is a reason for families to get together and relax, much like the Christmas holiday in the United States.
"Now everyone is so busy," he said. "It's a nice time you can set aside to get together and see your family, many of them who you only see once a year."
Up and down the outer halls of Silver Creek High School, volunteers manned booths celebrating Chinese character writing, chopsticks, the abacus, and Chinese name translation, to name a few. The event celebrated other Asian cultures as well, as there were origami demonstrations and taiko drumming, which originated in Japan.
Niwot High School student Shreya Sharma, who was giving a demonstration on how to use chopsticks, said she was enjoying herself because the event gave her a chance to experience some cultural activities she normally wouldn't be party to.
"This is important," she said. "It teaches people who aren't necessarily a part of the culture more about it. We can learn more about it and learn to get along."
Volunteers with the Silver Creek Leadership academy volunteered to man booths and organize the celebration, according to Silver Creek High School Principal Erick Finnestead.
"We've been hosting this for eight years," he said, adding that the celebration is a collaborative effort with the Asian-Pacific Association of Longmont, the Longmont Multicultural Action Committee and the leadership academy.
He added that the event is meant to provide cultural awareness and an opportunity for students to engage with different cultures."
"What we see here is a celebration of all Asian cultures that gives kids the opportunity to see their social studies class come alive," he said.
Rita Liu, founder of the Asian-Pacific Alliance of Longmont, said that events like the one on Saturday are important because it allows Asian folks in Boulder County the opportunity to introduce their culture to the wider community, as well as provide mentorship for the students.
"Normally, they just stay within themselves," she said. "I wanted to create an environment where they can come out to the community, and use their skills and contribute. ... It works out so well."