ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Local Chinese group brings in the Year of the Rabbit

The Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most important festival in China.

United Chinese Americans of Fargo/Moorhead celebrate the new lunar new year, the Year of the Water Rabbit, with more than 250 people attending at TAK Music Venue in Dilworth, Minn. on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.
United Chinese Americans of Fargo/Moorhead celebrate the new lunar new year, the Year of the Water Rabbit, with more than 250 people attending on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum
We are part of The Trust Project.

DILWORTH, Minn. — Stepping into TAK Music Venue on the first day of the Year of the Rabbit was like entering a banquet hall in China, decked out in paper cuttings and red lanterns.

Cozied up to round tables, a long banquet feast on one side, local residents including Chinese dressed in fine silk hanfu jackets and qipao dresses ate while a lively song called “Gong Xi Ni Fa Cai” blared from loudspeakers, a feeling resembling what Guinness World Records recognizes as the world’s most watched television show, CCTV New Year’s Gala.

Parents gave out traditional hong bao, or red envelopes filled with cash to children, an old custom used to rid themselves of bad luck. Although most local Chinese were far away from extended family, they were excited for a taste of home.

Plus, a quick call on WeChat allowed many to share the experience with family and friends back in China.

Attendees of the United Chinese Americans of Fargo/Moorhead banquet celebration welcoming in the Year of the Rabbit at TAK Music Venue in Dilworth, Minn. on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023.jpg
Attendees of the United Chinese Americans of Fargo_Moorhead banquet celebration welcoming in the Year of the Rabbit at TAK Music Venue in Dilworth, Minn. on Sunday Jan. 22, 2023.
Chris Hagen / The Forum

Yang Jun, president of the United Chinese Americans of Fargo/Moorhead and organizer of the event, originally came from Lanzhou, Gansu.

ADVERTISEMENT

Some traditions in China require families to only eat vegetable dumplings on the lunar new year’s eve. For Yang’s family, they dig into mutton and beef dishes, and of course boiled dumplings.

“When I was young, in a small village in China, we had donkeys and camels. When we wanted to visit family I remember riding a camel. Later we had bicycles, and now all my relatives have cars. It just shows how far we’ve come,” Yang said.

The Fargo/Moorhead Area Youth Symphonies play during the celebration to welcome in the lunar new year on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.jpeg
The Fargo/Moorhead Area Youth Symphonies play during the celebration to welcome in the lunar new year on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.
Special to The Forum

This year’s Lunar New Year’s celebration was the first in several years that had no restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, the celebration was online, and in recent years masks were recommended and people ate out of carryout boxes.

“This year we’re back to buffet style. It feels great to have everyone back,” Yang said.

Hai Hui, originally from Dalian, has been in the Fargo-Moorhead area for four years. She volunteered to work the admissions counter at the front door of TAK Music Venue, 1710 Center Ave.

More than 250 people attended the United Chinese Americans of Fargo/Moorhead's annual lunar new year celebration at TAK Music Venue in Dilworth, Minn. on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.jpg
More than 250 people attended the United Chinese Americans of Fargo/Moorhead annual lunar new year celebration at TAK Music Venue in Dilworth, Minn. on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum

When Hai first arrived to the area, she didn’t know many people, but because of the United Chinese Americans of Fargo/Moorhead she has become part of a growing Chinese community.

“When I first got here, it was lonely. There weren’t many Chinese here, it seemed. But now, we put on these types of celebrations and they’re so much fun,” Hai said.

Back home, four generations of her family usually travel long distances to get together before Lunar New Year’s Eve, which was Saturday, Jan. 21. Dumplings, fireworks and of course CCTV New Year’s Gala, which typically attracts more than a billion viewers, were always on the menu.

ADVERTISEMENT

The pandemic kept her from returning home; she hasn’t seen her parents since she arrived, but the annual lunar New Year celebration brings back the warmth of being with family and friends, she said.

Fran Mlnarik, Jing Bian, and their son Jake attending the United Chinese Americans of Fargo_Moorhead annual lunar new year celebration on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.jpg
Fran Mlnarik, his wife Jing Bian, and their son Jake attending the United Chinese Americans of Fargo/Moorhead annual lunar new year celebration on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum

Fran Mlnarik of Forman, North Dakota, his wife Jing Bian, originally from Jinzhou, Liaoning, and their son, Jake, talked about the differences of celebrating the lunar new year in America. Mlnarik misses the steady roar of fireworks; Jing craves spicy dishes she can’t find locally.

While finishing up a plate of steaming food, Jake thought the music was too loud.

“One of the things that really touched me when I was in China is the friendliness of all the people. They were so accepting of me this time of year when I celebrated new years there with them. They made me feel like part of the family,” Mlnarik said.

“That warmth, we don’t really have that here,” he said. “They barely even knew me then, and yet they brought me plates of sunflower seeds, candies, cigarettes, and treated me like royalty and that’s very different than here.”

The year 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit in Asia.jpg
The year 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit in Asia.
C.S. Hagen / The Forum

The Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most important festival in China. It is a time of congested roads, when families travel thousands of miles to be together for a two-week holiday.

At homes, windows are scrubbed. Floors cleaned. Furniture is dusted, all before the first day of the new year. Such chores symbolize fresh starts.

Pictures of door gods are placed in pairs at front entrances. Chinese paper cuttings, or jianzhi, of the character for fortune are turned upside down to symbolize fortune has arrived.

ADVERTISEMENT

The zodiac animal for the lunar year 2023 is the water rabbit, which is a symbol of longevity, peace and prosperity.

People born in the year of the rabbit are believed to be vigilant, witty, quick-minded and lucky, but may also be a little emotional, withdrawn and selfish, according to Chinese mythology.

Every zodiac animal, of which there are 12, comes with its own element that changes every year. This year, the water element tied to the rabbit signifies trusting instincts and for people to focus on building bridges in professional and personal relationships.

Related Topics: MOORHEADFARGO
C.S. Hagen is an award-winning journalist currently covering the education and activist beats mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota.
What To Read Next
Mini opera serves a sweet slice of musical theater savored by audience.
Check out our weekly list of new fundraisers and benefits from Lend A Hand Up, a nonprofit crowdfunding site that adds a 20% boost to online donations.
The group is marking the 50th anniversary of its debut album and will make a stop in West Fargo to celebrate.
A violin concerto that has only been performed a handful of times is a big part of the concert.