Year of the Dragon 

Americans ring in the New Year with booze, black-eyed peas, and cheap cardboard hats, but the Chinese take things a little more seriously for their annual New Year's celebration.

Elaborate costumes, graceful dance performances, and traditional music mark the start of the Chinese lunar calendar. Although this year's holiday fell on January 23rd, the folks at the Center for Southern Folklore are still celebrating.

On Saturday, January 28th, from 4:30 to 8 p.m., the center will hold an opening reception for a series of Chinese New Year photographs by Changzhi Yu, the center's director of photography. Yu's photos depict Chinese dancers and kung-fu students performing in Memphis from New Year celebrations past.

To ring in the Year of the Dragon, the center will serve symbolic New Year's foods, such as noodles for long life (don't cut them or risk bad luck) and dumplings and egg rolls for good fortune (they resemble gold bars). There will also be dance and musical performances.

This is the first such multicultural event at the Center for Southern Folklore, and board chair Mary Patterson says it won't be the last.

"This is not a one-shot deal. The center will be focusing more on the multicultural [aspects of our city]," Patterson says.

Patterson is inviting other cultural groups in town to contact the center about hosting their traditional celebrations.

Chinese New Year Celebration and Photo Exhibition, Saturday, January 28th, 4:30-8 p.m. at the Center for Southern Folklore, 119 S. Main at Pembroke Square (525-3655).

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