How to join the very first…

GOOD YEAR! Check out the lion dancers (like the ones pictured above) at the first-ever citywide Chinese New Year celebration at Center Pablo on Saturday, January 29. (Photo by Jessie Leong | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

新年快乐 or Xīnnián kuàilè – Happy Chinese New Year! While February 1 officially marks the start of the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese zodiac, the entire month of February will feature celebrations throughout the Chippewa Valley, starting with the first nationwide Chinese New Year celebration. the city on Saturday, January 29.

Although you may not have 15 days off to celebrate with family as required by traditional celebrations in China, Eau Claire families and friends are encouraged to reconnect, as are families around the world. .

Chinese New Year means togetherness and family.

Xin Obaid

Owner of Mingxin Chinese Cultural Exchange

“I held small events (Chinese New Year) and people loved it,” said Xin Obaid, owner of Eau Claire’s MingXin Chinese Cultural Exchange teahouse. “So I thought, ‘I’d like to do a real Chinese New Year festival to show the Eau Claire community how we celebrate Chinese New Year, because Chinese New Year is the first most important holiday in China.’ … Everyone – no matter who you are – you have to go home. … Chinese New Year means together and family. No matter what happened, as much as you can, you have to go home.

Xin Obaid, owner of MingXin Chinese Cultural Exchange, invites people from all walks of life to share a cup of tea at his teahouse located in Artisan Forge Studios.  (Photo by Andrea Paulseth)

Xin Obaid, owner of MingXin Chinese Cultural Exchange, invites people from all walks of life to share a cup of tea at his teahouse located in Artisan Forge Studios. (Photo by Andrea Paulseth)

Obaid remembers celebrations of years past, where his grandmother’s big frying pan played a starring role in frying up a bit of everything. “We eat good food and we drink good things,” she laughs. “Everyone needs to talk. Truly speak. It means the family cares about everyone (and shares) what you’ve done, what you’re going to do next year, what you need help with.

Tea at the MingXin Chinese Cultural Exchange teahouse, which Obaid shares with visitors.  The teas she shares are shipped from her family's tea plantation in China.  (Photo by Andrea Paulseth)

Tea at the MingXin Chinese Cultural Exchange teahouse, which Obaid shares with visitors. The teas she shares are shipped from her family’s tea plantation in China. (Photo by Andrea Paulseth)

The celebration, scheduled for Saturday, January 29, will kick off with a black-tie Chinese art exhibit and reception, at 1:30 p.m., with artwork shipped by Obaid across the country.

But perhaps more dynamically, enjoy the traditional lion dance offered by the Madison-based Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association. Lion dancers are an important tradition during Chinese New Year as they symbolize power, driving away evil spirits to bring good fortune for the new year.

Traditional lion dancers

Traditional lion dancers from the Madison-based Zhing Yi Kung Fu Association, who will perform at the Pablo Center on January 29.

红包 or hongbao (or red envelopes containing Chinese yen) are poured into the lions by mouth. It’s kind of like a tip, except it’s a bit more fun; you can literally let the lions eat your money.

Obaid encourages participants to bring hongbao (US dollars are cool too!) to let the lion dancers know they are doing a great job!

As part of the lion dance tradition, viewers are encouraged to hold their ground

As part of the lion dance tradition, viewers are encouraged to hold their ground hongbao, or Chinese yen wrapped in red envelopes, for the lions to “eat”. It’s a way of showing gratitude and telling artists “great job” similar to tipping. (Photo via Unsplash)

In addition to traditional lion dancers and Chinese artwork, there will also be a reading of Chinese poetry, demonstrations of traditional calligraphy, and a performance by regionally (and internationally) renowned Chinese soprano, Mei Ma.

Minnesota

The Minnesota Chinese Music Ensemble (Photo via Facebook)

Later, listen to the Minnesota Chinese Music Ensemble, featuring a traditional and historic Chinese instrument called a guquin – or a seven-stringed instrument known for its peaceful musical abilities.

Likewise, listen to a traditional Jiahu gǔdí (贾湖骨笛), China’s oldest known musical instrument. Some of these instruments, known as “bone flutes”, date back to 6000 BCE.

If listening to so much music makes you hungry, fear not! At 4:30 p.m., Shanghai Bistro will serve traditional Chinese dishes.

And while delicious spring rolls, dumplings and rice cakes make for the perfect end to a festive evening, it’s not the end of Chinese New Year festivities in the valley. Quite the contrary; New Year celebrations continue throughout February.

Some of the delicious dishes regularly available at Shanghai Bistro in Eau Claire.  (Photo by Andrea Paulseth)

Some of the delicious dishes regularly available at Shanghai Bistro in Eau Claire. (Photo by Andrea Paulseth)

On Saturday, February 5, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., attend a free Fenjiu tasting at Artisan Forge Studios, courtesy of Shanxi Xinghuacun Fenjiu International Trade Co. Fenjiu is known as one of the cleanest Chinese spirits (this which makes you less likely to get a hangover!) originated in Shanxi, northern China. It is a type of baijiu with a sweet and chewy taste.

On Saturday, February 12, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., there will be a Chinese ink and calligraphy event, where participants can create their own Chinese fans using the materials provided.

On Saturday, February 19, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., attend a fashion show featuring authentic Chinese silk scarves. Finally, on Saturday, February 26, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., stretch your muscles with a Chinese Tai Chi dance.

Ultimately – even with all the celebrations, festivities and fanfare surrounding the festivities – the whole month-long celebration comes down to celebrating Chinese art, culture and customs. Deeper still, it is about celebrating family, friends and community.

And without a final push from local artist Terry Meyer, the entire inaugural event might not even have happened.

“He asked me, ‘What is your heritage?’ said Obaid. “And she said, ‘I want to do the Chinese New Year Festival.’ So that’s the encouragement from him. Because I wanted to do it, but I wasn’t sure. He said the only sentence that really encouraged me: if you do this, you create the history of Eau Claire. , because no one’s ever done it. I said, ‘Really? I’m going to make history,’ and he said, ‘Yes! so I said, ‘Okay! I’m going to do it.’ ‘ … I created the story of Eau Claire.


To learn more about the Chinese New Year Festival, visit pablocenter.org. Tickets for the event are $25. Tickets including dinner are $45.

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