2013-01-30 / Community

New Year celebrations keep culture, traditions alive for Chinese residents

By Stephanie Sumell


WITH FLYING COLORS—Megan Lee, 11, practices her ribbon technique with the Chinese dance group from Nan’s Dance Studio. The young dancers were rehearsing at the Hillcrest Arts Center for their upcoming Chinese New Year performance. WITH FLYING COLORS—Megan Lee, 11, practices her ribbon technique with the Chinese dance group from Nan’s Dance Studio. The young dancers were rehearsing at the Hillcrest Arts Center for their upcoming Chinese New Year performance. On Feb. 9, at the stroke of midnight, Jane Xia’s relatives in Shanghai will call to wish her Newbury Park family a happy Chinese New Year.

This year, the new year falls on Feb. 10.

“It’s hard to have an actual conversation,” she said with a laugh. “When the phone rings, all you hear are loud firecrackers and people saying, ‘Happy New Year! Happy New Year!’”

The mother of two is one of roughly 5,000 Chinese Americans living in the Conejo Valley—hundreds of whom will attend upcoming New Year celebrations at California Lutheran University and the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

“I feel like it’s a big family,” Xia said of the local Chinese community. “We all work very hard to keep the Chinese traditions alive.”


LOOKING GOOD—Instructor Nan Zhang at the far side of the room coaches her students as they rehearse. Chinese New Year is Sun., Feb. 10. LOOKING GOOD—Instructor Nan Zhang at the far side of the room coaches her students as they rehearse. Chinese New Year is Sun., Feb. 10. According to the Chinese astrology calendar, 2013 is the year of the black water snake.

“(The) 2013 horoscope predicts it (will be) a good year . . . for career and business opportunities,” said Debby Chang, a Chinese language and culture lecturer at CLU. “People who were born in the year of the snake are intelligent and fascinated with all beautiful things in life. They are great mediators and good at doing business.”

Chang said the New Year celebration lasts 15 days.

To prepare, the Chinese their homes in red and gold— colors that symbolize wealth and luck. They spend time with family and friends, give lucky envelopes of money to children and enjoy a traditional Chinese New Year’s Eve feast.


LOVELY LADIES— Dance students prepare for the Chinese New Year celebration which will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thurs., Feb. 7 in the Soiland Recreation Center at Cal Lutheran Univ. LOVELY LADIES— Dance students prepare for the Chinese New Year celebration which will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Thurs., Feb. 7 in the Soiland Recreation Center at Cal Lutheran Univ. The huge meal includes an array of traditional East Asian fare, including a whole headto tail fish.

“It can be tilapia, sea bass . . . any kind of fish,” said Xia, a senior manager of market research at Amgen. “In China, fish prevent bad luck. You have to leave some for the next day so that your good prospects carry on from one year decorate to another.”

To kick off the year in style, Xia’s 10-year-old daughter, Adalia Zhou, will perform in the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza’s Chinese New Year show on Saturday.

A student of local dance teacher Nan Zhang, Adalia will join 13 of her peers in a traditional Chinese ribbon dance.

“It’s a great show year after year,” said Xia, who will help out with hair and makeup. “ They’ve been practicing a lot.”

Xia said she and her husband, Chengfeng Zhou, have made Chinese traditions an integral part of their children’s lives.

Adalia, whose 19-year-old brother, Benjamin, is in college, takes weekly classes at the Thou- sand Oaks Chinese School on Moorpark Road.

“My children are Americans, but it’s important that they understand their origins,” Xia said. “I want them to carry on the tradition so they don’t feel disconnected from their relatives in China.”

Hoping to bridge connections of all kinds, Chang said she encourages people of all backgrounds to attend the annual Cal Lutheran celebration, which began in 2006, or the Civic Arts Plaza show.

“For the Chinese it’s the most important celebration of the year,” said the teacher, who was born in Taiwan and is heavily involved in CLU’s event. “If we get our local people together, we can better understand each other’s culture. By understanding, we become a global environment.”

At 7 p.m. Sat., Feb. 2, the Conejo Chinese Cultural Association will host a New Year performance in the Fred Kavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.

Tickets range from $24 to $39. Group discounts are available.

For more information, visit www.ccca-tocs.org. Tickets are available at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza box office in person, on the plaza’s website or by phone at (800) 745-3000.

At 6:30 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 7, CLU will host a celebration in Soiland Recreation Center in the campus’ Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center.

“It’s grown so much, we’ve had to change venues three times,” Chang said. “In recent years, we’ve had as many as 600 people come.”

The CLU celebration will have various booths selling food and art. Admission is free. For more information, contact Daniel Lawrence at (805) 493-3489 or Chang at ddchang@callutheran.edu.

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