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UNC welcomes year of water dragon

Published: Thursday, February 2, 2012

Updated: Friday, February 3, 2012 02:02

Chichi Ama

Chichi Ama

Karate West Demo Team demonstrates a variety of karate moves during the annual Lunar New Year celebration Thursday in the University Center Ballrooms.

Cymbals clashed and chimes spurred on dancers in a colorful and detailed traditional dragon costume as UNC students and community members celebrated the Lunar New Year.

This year is the Year of the Water Dragon, meaning 2012 is predicted to be exciting and productive.

The New Year celebration hosts, including the Asian studies program, the Chinese Culture Club, the Japanese Language Club and Japanese Culture and Anime Club, sought to bring cultural diversity to attendees by showing students and staff how to party like it's 2012 — Lunar New Year style, of course.

Face paintings of long-tongued dragons, calligraphy, food, dances and karate demonstrations helped the University of Northern Colorado welcomed the Year of the Water Dragon.

Michelle Low, a professor of Asian studies, provided background information on the tradition of the Lunar New Year in Asia.

"There are 12 animals in the zodiac calendar and each of them gets a year," Low said. "The dragon in Chinese is usually a representation of being assertive and brash; however, this year the cycle includes one of the elements: water. This is supposed to temper the dragon."

China, Korea, Mongolia and Thailand traditionally celebrate this event with fireworks meant to scare away bad luck. At midnight, households open windows and doors to provide an exit for the past year and welcome in the New Year.

The event featured a variety of activities and an Asian cuisine dinner. The proceeds from the dinner will be used to fund Asian studies scholarships.

Before dinner, the event kicked-off with engaging cultural activities that proceeded to raise funds and recruit members for UNC's cultural and awareness groups.

The Japanese Language Club sold origami and invited people to become familiar with the Japanese language and customs. The Chinese Club and Japanese Culture Club also participated by selling intricate and handcrafted kanzashi flowers and chopsticks.

Lily Herreria, a senior Asian studies major, said each flower was unique and individual.

"The flowers are usually created from the extra fabric of costumes," Herreria said. "That's why no one flower is made of the same cloth. Sometimes it is the small imperfections that make something beautiful. That's why we created each of these flowers, to be unique and special in their own way."

Kanzashi flowers are decorative hair pieces that used to be worn only by geisha performers. Today, however, they are a fashion accessory coveted by younger girls, Herreria said.

Several other clubs and organizations were present and provided information and chances for students to become culturally enlightened and increase environmental sustainability.

Dan Remington, a junior environmental studies major, had club members participate in the festivities to increase awareness of environmental issues.

"Our objective is to educate people on ways to be environmentally conscious and lessen their negative impact on the environment," said Remington, who along with the Hawaiian Club, Mexican American Culture Club and Native American Club encouraged students to become active in their community.

While the New Year was the cause of the celebration, the real purpose of the festivities was to increase cultural awareness and acceptance on campus.

"Celebrating the Lunar New Year at UNC was a great way to bring cultural awareness to the campus," said Kayla Nochi, a senior business major.


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