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photo by Adam Coffman
photo by Adam Coffman
Lunar New Year fell on February 7th this year. This is the year of the Rat. Few people in Fort Wayne were aware of this Lunar New Year day, which is celebrated by most Asian cultures including Chinese, Vietnamese, Burmese, Thais and Koreans. This is the most celebrated day of the year; it is equivalent to the Christmas of Western culture. In several big cities across America, such as Los Angeles and Chicago, numerous functions were held, and many people came to experience these celebrations.

In Fort Wayne, there are two main Lunar New Year Parties organized by the Chinese Association and the Vietnamese Community. This year, these functions were held on February 3rd. The Vietnamese Community held their party at the St. Patrick Catholic Church downtown. A band from Indianapolis was there to play for the audience and the floor was open for ballroom dancing. Several hundred people attended the party.

Traditionally, the major celebration is on the Lunar New Year’s Eve. Household members will normally prepare their best dishes. These dishes are rarely served in the daily meals. They are assumed to be the best in nutrients, vitamins, energy and taste in the food. Relatives and all extended family members will usually travel to their hometown for this reunion. After the feast, children will each receive a “Hong Pow” which is a red money envelope with good luck money in it.

Waynedale Chinese Restaurant owners and employees kept this tradition alive. Owners of Hainan House and China Palace celebrated the occasion at the Walb Union Ballroom at IPFW with the Chinese Association. The party began at 5pm with various performances by Sunday Chinese School students as well as several adult groups. The shows included singing, dancing- which included the famous Chinese Lion dance and Angel Fan dance, an opera sketch, piano and violin performances. Dinner followed the shows.

While across the street, Zheng’s Buffet celebrated with friends and employees at the restaurant after it closed for business on New Year’s Eve. Authentic Chinese dishes were prepared for the celebration. The food served at the party was very different from the restaurant’s usual fare. The reactions and responses from party guests were obviously divided. The seafood squids and lobsters cooked with the shells and skins on; the chicken and duck served with bones and skins on; an exotic dish called the Angel’s Palm is actually duck’s feet; these were not the kind of food that the locals are accustomed to. However, the Chinese treated them as delicacies. We wished Mr. Zheng “Cong Xi Futt Chai” which means Happy and Prosperous New Year and Mr. Zheng gave us each a “Hong Bao”. As we are leaving, Mr. and Mrs. Zheng said, “Shay Shay, Zai Jian” which means thank you and good-bye in Chinese.

The Waynedale News Staff
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