It’s the Year of the Sheep, and about 580 people braved a snowy, cold weekend to celebrate the Chinese New Year on Feb. 21. The Great Wall Chinese Academy, which has about 80 students, ages preschool to high school, said Mei Cheng, the school’s founder, put on two hour-long performances on stage at the Southridge Recreation Center in Highlands Ranch.
The show opened with the popular lion and dragon dance when costumed dancers went up and down the aisles, interacting with the excited audience. Attendees of the celebration also enjoyed the cultural fair in which traditional Chinese food and refreshments, and handmade Chinese arts and crafts such as calligraphy and origami, were available for viewing and purchasing.
The following are some fun facts on Chinese New Year:
• In Western cultures, it is known as the Chinese New Year, but in China, it is known as the Spring Festival. The history dates back more than 4,000 years, and today, it is celebrated as an eight-day, official holiday in China.
• The actual date of the celebration varies, as it falls on the first day of the first month based on the Chinese lunar calendar. In 2015, Chinese New Year began on Feb. 19 and will end on March 5.
• The calendar is associated with the Chinese zodiac, which includes 12 animals that represent a 12-year cycle. The animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. This year is the Year of the Sheep/Goat.
• A person is a sheep/goat if born in 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003 and 2015. The sheep/goat zodiac sign is thought to be among the animals that people like because of its gentle and calm demeanor. It is thought to be a lucky animal that brings positive energy in the universe. Main strengths of the sheep/goat are politeness, cleverness and kind-heartedness. Main weaknesses are moodiness, shyness and indecisiveness.