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MAES students learn about Chinese New Year

February 15, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — Two second-grade classes at Mohave Accelerated Elementary School said “ni hao” to a new experience Wednesday.

Carrie Rueden’s class has been learning about Chinese culture, and she invited local Panda Express representatives to discuss the legend and meaning of Chinese New Year, a 15-day feast that this year began Feb. 5.

The group was joined by Christina Montoya’s class.

Manager David Flores and shift leader Tristina Roark played a video on Chinese New Year for the students, covering its origins and traditions.

According to legend, the festival began with a mythical beast called the Nian, which terrified villagers on the darkest night of the year. But the villagers learned from a wise man what the Nian was afraid of: loud noises, fire and the color red.

They greeted him the next time with drums and fireworks, while wearing red, and he ran off and never returned.

The new year then became cause for celebration.

Chinese New Year traditions now include plenty of all three — noise, fire and the color red. Also, meals frequently include egg rolls (which symbolize prosperity), shrimp (happiness — the Mandarin words for “shrimp” and “smile” sound very similar) and chow mein noodles.

The latter symbolize a long life, so it’s considered bad luck to cut them, Rueden said.

Flores and Roark also discussed the origin of the Chinese zodiac, which legend says began with a race set up by the Jade Emperor, who declared that the 12 animals who finished first would get zodiac years.

Legend has it that the Rat took first place by riding on the back of the Ox across a river, then jumping off and racing ahead to cross the finish line first.

Flores and Roark said the year in which one is born is believed to shape his or her personality and destiny.

The children could win footballs and stuffed pandas by answering questions about Chinese New Year. Every student, however, received a container of orange chicken with chow mein and a fortune cookie.

Flores said he goes to MAES each year to share a little Chinese culture with the students and to give back to the community.

Rueden, who gave the second-graders a demonstration of how to use chopsticks, said she teaches about various cultures throughout the school year. Chinese New Year, she said, coincides with her lesson on China.

Today, the second-graders will learn how to count to 10 in Mandarin.

The Year of the Pig runs until Jan. 24.