A year to monkey around

Wednesday marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year, according to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, and Chinese cultural groups throughout Portland are planning many festivities to welcome the year of the monkey.

“Chinese New Year is the most auspicious of the Chinese holidays,” Gloria Lee, general director of the Portland Classical Chinese Gardens said. “The new year signifies the opportunity to send away misfortunes accumulated from the past and prepare for starting fresh.”

Chinese New Year festivities generally begin several weeks before the year begins, and then continue for 15 days afterward. Traditional celebrations include feasts, dancing, and giving children “hongbao,” or red envelopes containing small amounts of money.

By the Chinese calendar, this is the year 4701, the year of the wooden monkey. According to traditional Chinese astrology, the year of the monkey is typically filled with a spirit of fun and curiosity, making it a time for fun parties and new romance.

The PSU Chinese Student Association has planned a celebration dinner in the SMSU cafeteria at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, featuring a Chinese buffet and bingo.

Many Chinese cultural organizations throughout Portland are hosting events celebrating the new year. There will be a traditional Lion Dance at the Portland Classical Chinese Garden January 24, at 11 a.m.

Perhaps one of the most well recognized Chinese traditions, the lion dance dates back more than 2,000 years and features bright, flowing costumes usually operated by two dancers.

The Classical Chinese Garden is also hosting several other events over the weekend, including telling stories of the classical Chinese mythical character the Monkey King, a Tai Chi demonstration and an art exhibit

The Northwest China Council is also hosting a print-making workshop on Saturday, where participants can make traditional wood block prints of classical Chinese deities intended to bring good luck during the new year.