AP NEWS

‘Feel the Chinese culture’

February 19, 2018 GMT

Imagine you’re living in another country when Christmas comes around. For many of us, the thought of ignoring the holiday is, well, unthinkable. 

That’s what it would be like for a native of China to ignore Chinese New Year, Qian Williams said. She’s a member of Fort Wayne Chinese Families and Friends Association, the nonprofit that orchestrated Sunday’s Chinese New Year celebration at IPFW.

“It’s the most significant holiday of the year,” Williams added.

Williams and about 200 others gathered to celebrate the Year of the Dog. Unlike many international events designed to introduce Americans to other cultures, this annual celebration is organized by Chinese for Chinese.

Programs were printed in Chinese and English. Presentations from the stage were also made in both languages as the adults listened politely from their tables. The children did what young children in all cultures do : they laughed as they ran and batted around balloons off to the side of the ballroom.

The room was decked out in red and gold, the traditional Chinese New Year colors. Some of the women wore sparkly party clothes. A photo booth was set up at the back of the room.

The menu included dumplings and fish, which represent abundance. They are traditional foods for the holiday. Oranges were placed on the tables for good luck.

Four local restaurants catered the dinner: Yu’s Golden China, Wu’s Fine Chinese Cuisine, Kung Fu Buffet and Salsa Grille.

Organizers wanted to provide a more diverse menu this year. The locally owned Mexican restaurant was added to appeal to younger and non-Chinese participants, Williams said.

Another tradition bound to delight the youngsters was the distribution of red envelopes containing cash. The older generation gives the gifts.

“That’s supposed to be blessings to the younger generation,” Williams explained.

In return, she said, the child bestows a blessing on the giver.

Luzhi Chen, a senior at Concordia Lutheran High School and native of China, attended the dinner with four of his American classmates. Together, they form a saxophone quintet.

Chen found Chinese music online and asked his best friends to perform with him during the New Year’s celebration after about two weeks of practice.

His plan was to contribute to the event while also introducing his classmates to his homeland.

“I want them to feel the Chinese culture,” he said

sslater@jg.net