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Eden Center Kicks Off Chinese New Year Celebration Tomorrow

Phuc Pham said that he and his family will go to the Eden Center celebration tomorrow. (Photo: Patricia Leslie/News-Press)
Phuc Pham said that he and his family will go to the Eden Center celebration tomorrow. (Photo: Patricia Leslie/News-Press)

A raising of the American and Vietnamese flags and singing national anthems at 11:30 a.m. will kick off the Eden Center’s celebration of the Chinese New Year, which will continue with more events commemorating the start of the Year of the Goat this weekend.

The Chinese Zodiac revolves around a 12-year mathematical cycle, each year symbolized by an animal. 2015 is the Year of the Goat, and those born in a goat year have personality characteristics like the animal: They are generally gentle, thoughtful, and creative, and since they are serene and calm, they tend to have fewer health problems.

Alan B. Frank, the counsel and senior vice president of Capital Commercial Properties, Inc., who has worked for Eden Center 20 years, said that several hundred are expected to attend the flag raising on Thursday morning, despite the weather forecast. The Weather Channel predicts Thursday’s high will be 17 degrees.

The forecast for this weekend is more of what the area experienced earlier this week. Eden Center’s weekend New Year celebrations begin at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21, and start at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 22.

The festivities will include entertainers, face painting, magicians, a fortune teller and a lion dance (“To scare away bad luck and bring in good luck,” Frank said).

“If the weather is really bad” for the weekend, activities will be moved to the canopied sidewalks, and “if super bad,” the entertainers may go inside the mall, Frank said.

Last weekend Grace Chang of Arlington was shopping at Eden’s Good Fortune supermarket, but she wasn’t getting ready for the New Year. Yet.

“I do just one holiday at a time,” she laughed, and looked down at her grocery cart where a lobster sat, a meal for Chang’s family’s Valentine’s Day dinner.

For the New Year, her family will have “a big feast,” with a “Chinese hot pot” which is “kind of like fondue: a big pot with hot broth, meats and vegetables, and tofu.

“We get together and eat traditional foods: dumplings, fish,” she said.

In the Chinese tradition, “food always symbolizes something!” she exclaimed, and said the Chinese word for “fish” sounds like “happy.” (It also sounds like the Chinese word for “surplus.”)

Chang said dumplings are served in shapes which look like purses, to bring wealth and prosperity.

Fish is served whole with its head and tail, symbolizing a good beginning and a good ending for the year.

Phuc Pham, another shopper at Good Fortune, said that his family also eats “certain” fish on the New Year. He lives in Woodbridge and said he’d be bringing his family to the Thursday ceremony at Eden Center.

“We eat traditional Vietnamese food” for New Year’s, Pham said, which includes rice wrapped in a green leaf with a meat filling.

Chang said her family does not exchange gifts. “Typically, the older generation gives the younger generation red envelopes filled with money,” she said. Pham’s family practices the same tradition.

Chang, who was born in Taiwan but has never visited China, said her family celebrates New Year’s “on a smaller scale” than did her parents who moved here from China.

“Last year we were in Germany and shot off fireworks,” she said. “In the past, we’ve had sparklers [at home] for the children.” Her children are 14 and 12. For more information about Eden Center’s New Year celebration, visit edencenter.com.

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