Year of the Rabbit

Annual Chinese New Year Celebration Returning to Colorado Springs

It’s back!

The Colorado Springs Chinese Cultural Institute will host its 24th Annual Chinese New Year Festival on Jan. 21, after a two-year hiatus from the traditional in-person event.

All are welcome.

“This is an event that is so unique,” said Rhonda Maehara, marketing chairwoman for the Colorado Springs Chinese Cultural Institute. “You’re never going to experience this anywhere else.”

Activities at the City Auditorium will feature the traditional lion dance, Taiko drums, kung fu demonstrations, traditional Chinese dances, and Chinese musical performances. “Chinatown” will offer food vendors and an assortment of Asian-themed merchants. 

Cultural performances will take place on the main stage. The “Tea House” will feature more intimate musical performances, as well as opportunities to learn calligraphy or how to play the card game mahjong or the checkers game Go. Asian short films will play in the Lon Chaney Theater.  

In other words, there’s something for everyone, Maehara said.

“There’s something to see all day long,” she said. “There’s a lot of history.”

Chinese New Year History

It’s the Year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese zodiac, which is based on a lunar calendar that assigns an animal to each year in a repeating 12-year cycle. Rabbits were born in 1939, 1951, 1963 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, and 2023. Famous Rabbits include Albert Einstein, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Kate Winslet and David Beckham.

The official lunar calendar begins on January 22, 2023. Its origins predate the advent of written language. 

“It’s thousands and thousands of years old,” Maehara said. “It’s the largest celebration in China. … It’s based on a myth. There was an ogre. He went through the countryside. If you didn’t have the signage around your house, he would take your children. All the clanging noise is to ward off the bad spirits.”

The Chinese New Year festival happens the day before the new lunar calendar begins. Lunar New Year is among the most important annual celebrations among East and Southeast Asian cultures. Each celebrates a bit differently with various foods and traditions, and houses often are cleaned to rid them of bad spirits and to make space for good luck.

Foods made from glutinous rice represent togetherness; other foods symbolize good luck, prosperity, and abundance. Some households offer paper icons and food to ancestors. Others post banners and red paper inscribed with messages of fortune and good health. And sometimes, elders hand out envelopes containing money to kids.

Historians trace the Chinese New Year activities as far back as the Shang Dynasty (1600-1050 BCE). 

Colorado Springs Chinese Cultural Institute

The Colorado Springs Chinese Cultural Institute is a non-profit organization that provides a forum for greater appreciation of Chinese culture through education and social interaction. The organization was the idea of Mali Hsu, a Taiwan-born nurse who immigrated to Los Angeles in 1984 and moved to Colorado Springs in 1997.  She gathered support for an organization broadly focused on Chinese culture and heritage.

On February 3, 2001, the Mayor of Colorado Springs issued a proclamation establishing the Colorado Springs Chinese Cultural Institute (CSCCI).

Admission for the CSCCI New Year Festival is $6 for adults, $5 for Military, students, seniors and CSCCI members. Children under 5 are free. Tickets may be purchased at the door.  

Website: cscci.org

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