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Visitors to Portland's Lan Su Chinese Garden have the opportunity to celebrate Chinese New Year with a variety of family-friendly activities, from lion dances to martial arts demonstrations to music in the teahouse and more.
Arts & Life stopped by the Chinese Garden this past weekend as a crowd arrived to mark the beginning of the Year of the Snake.
Lee's Association Dragon & Lion Dance Team performed the dramatic and engaging lion dance before an appreciative audience. Traditionally, lion dances are performed to ward off evil and bring good fortune during occasions such as Chinese New Year, grand openings of new businesses, weddings and birthday celebrations. The three costumed lions, each with two people inside, were accompanied by performers playing a drum, gongs and cymbals.
In addition, many kids enjoyed the "Rolling in the Wealth" event in which they rolled oranges and chocolate coins into the garden.
"Oranges and gold coins symbolize prosperity and money," explains Scott Steele of the Lan Su Chinese Garden. "If you roll the money through the door into your home or business, or for us, the Garden, it brings in prosperity."
Chinese New Year is observed based on the lunar calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar that Western cultures use. This year, Chinese New Year is celebrated from February 10-24.
"It traditionally runs for 15 days," says Steele. "The Chinese New Year is definitely a time for a family. If you are from China or you live in China, it is traditionally time to go back home. Pretty much the entire country shuts down. It's two weeks of family activities and going back and seeing your family. It's kind of like Thanksgiving when everybody comes home."
Lan Su Garden's Chinese New Year celebration and activities take place through February 24. Visit their website for a detailed schedule and more information.