’Tis the year of the rat.
Chinese New Year is set for Saturday, Jan. 25, though the celebration is typically weekslong. This year’s Chinese zodiac is the rat, which is said to symbolize diligence, according to Tucson Chinese Association president Peter Chan.
“It’s the beginning of the cycle of the 12-animal zodiac,” Chan says. “The rat is a very diligent, smart character, even though some people might not have a good impression of it. It’s smart and resourceful and diligent.”
To kick off Chinese New Year — also sometimes referred to as Lunar New Year — the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, 1288 W. River Road, is throwing a “Together with Family” festival Saturday.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features crafts, games, performances and Chinese cuisine — “traditional dishes that family usually prepares at New Year time,” Chan says, adding that performances include lion and dragon dances.
“There are close to 10,000 Chinese Americans in Southern Arizona and Pima County,” Chan says. “I think it is good to not only celebrate such an important holiday, but it’s a good opportunity to have the community share the excitement and learn from the practices and activities that are usually practiced by traditional families since we are so far away from homeland, so to speak.”
Admission to the festival is $5 per person, and children ages 12 and under get in for free. Visit tucsonchinese.org for more information or call 292-6900.
Other events to ring in Chinese New Year:
- University of Arizona Global is hosting a Chinese New Year festival at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd, beginning at 2 p.m. Feb. 1. Performances include dance, music and martial arts. Tickets range from $15 to $18 and can be purchased at centhall.org
- The Asian Lantern Festival returns to Reid Park Zoo, 3400 Zoo Court, from Feb. 13 to March 29. The festival features hundreds of lanterns, in addition to “Asian-inspired entertainment, cuisine and culture,” the zoo’s website says. The festival runs in partnership with the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, UA Global and Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc. Visit reidparkzoo.org for more information.
- A gala will take over JW Marriott Starr Pass, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd., on Feb. 15, with proceeds benefiting the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center.Chan says attendees can expect a silent auction, performances and dinner. Tickets are $150 per person. Visit tucsonchinese.org for more information.
Contact reporter Gloria Knott at email@example.com or 573-4235. On Twitter: @gloriaeknott