Jacksonville Chinese Association celebrates Chinese New Year at UNF

Zach Sweat

The Jacksonville Chinese Association hosted its annual New Year’s celebration event Feb. 9 to bring in the Year of the Snake.

This year’s event featured acts such as an onstage performance of PSY’s famous “Gangnam Style” dance, a juggling ballerina, traditional Chinese poems about a drunken concubine and several various dances.

The Chinese New Year is also known as the Lunar New Year. This is because China’s calendar is lunisolar and is based off lunar phases where each month begins on the darkest day. The U.S. calendar, on the other hand, is based off tropical years and the amount of time the Sun takes to return to a particular location in the cycle of seasons.

The director of this year’s celebration festival, Li Liu, compared the holiday to Christmas, emphasizing its importance to Chinese people and their culture.

The Chinese New Year is also known as The Spring Festival. It is not only the longest Chinese holiday, but also the most important celebration of all Chinese traditional holidays.

The Chinese New Year celebration customarily runs from New Year’s Day, the first day of the first month on the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, which is also when the moon is at its brightest.

This year, the Chinese year 4711, began on Feb. 10.

The Jacksonville Chinese Association, which was established in 1996, has hosted a Chinese New Year celebration for the past 16 years. However, it was not until 2007 that the Jacksonville Chinese Association began sharing the celebration with North Florida residents.

James Yin, chairman and board member of the Jacksonville Chinese Association, said the holiday is not only important to Chinese in Jacksonville, but also important to all of the Jacksonville community because the event offers a unique multicultural experience.

The festival hosts a wide variety of performances ranging from traditional poems and dances, to plays and even acrobatics.

In addition to the performances, the Chinese New Year celebration also held a raffle where attendees could potentially win prizes.

Ronique Groomes, a UNF student and teacher at William Marion Raines Senior High School, was the luckiest in the crowd and took home the grand prize of a new iPad, the association’s largest prize to date.

“This was a wonderful experience.” Groomes said, “I’ve been [in Jacksonville] all my life and this is the first time I’ve ever been to this event. I want people to come out and experience Chinese culture more to learn about it and enjoy this day.”

The highlight of this year’s celebration festival was that Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown officially declared Feb. 9 to be China Day.

Email Zach Sweat at [email protected]

Photos by Sean Patterson.