Penn Museum celebrates the most important Chinese holiday of the year with their 32nd annual Chinese New Year Celebration on Saturday, February 2, 2013.


Dragons ring in the Chinese new year ring in the Chinese new year

Credit: Tan Chan / The Daily Pennsylvanian

The Year of the Dragon ends in less than a week, soon to yield to another sign in the Chinese zodiac.

On Saturday, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology hosted a Chinese New Year celebration ringing in the Year of the Snake. Beginning at 11 a.m., the festivities included dancing, arts and crafts and martial arts, as well as presentations on feng shui, tai chi and meditation.

The event, which is held annually, was mostly attended by families with small children.

Jonathan Alinovi, a visiting student from Hunter College, said, “this is the most diverse Chinese New Year celebration I’ve ever seen.”

Alinovi added that he has been to many celebrations in the past, but none had had the same community feel as this one.

A marketplace was set up in the China gallery, and vendors sold everything from calligraphic scrolls and jade seals to toy snakes. Penn students from Alpha Phi Omega manned a booth where children decorated paper lanterns and paper-chain snakes.

College sophomore Jason Ling said he enjoyed volunteering at the event, and that “the kids were really cute.”

In the backdrop of the sphinx, the Ba’z Tai Chi & Kung Fu Studio demonstrated the art of tai chi in the museum’s Egypt wing.

Among the mummies, musicians Qin Qian and Kurt Jung contrasted Eastern and Western music by performing Chinese classics with American favorites like “Oh Susanna” on the erhu and the yangchin — two traditional Chinese instruments resembling a fiddle and a dulcimer respectively.

In other parts of the museum, visitors stood to watch such spectacles as dance performances by local troupes, a lion dance workshop facilitated by the student group Penn Lions and a kung fu demonstration.

Constance Mesiarik, a Philadelphia resident and mother of four young girls, said she comes to this celebration every year.

“The program is very engaging,” she said, “and it gets the kids interested.”

In addition to the activities, the Pepper Mill Cafe inside the museum served Chinese food for the occasion. The Museum Shop also offered a selection of Chinese souvenirs for purchase.

The celebration ended in a Lion Dance parade, during which participants were allowed to pet the enormous lion costumes for good luck. The event is part of a series of World Culture Days held by the Penn Museum to celebrate diverse traditions around the world.

Past World Culture Days have included celebrations of Indian and Japanese culture and a commemoration of the legacy of the Silk Road.

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