Shrewsbury celebrates the “Year of the Dragon”

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By Bonnie Adams, Government Editor

Shrewsbury celebrates the “Year of the Dragon”Shrewsbury – Hundreds of people gathered in Shrewsbury Jan. 29 to celebrate the “Year of the Dragon” – the theme of the 2012 Chinese New Year Spring Festival. The event, held at the Sherwood Middle School, was a collaborative effort amongst Sherwood, the Massachusetts Beijing Chinese Language School, St. John's High School, Oak Middle School and the Bancroft School. Throughout the afternoon, dozens of students ranging in age from kindergarten through high school performed a variety of traditional and festive Chinese songs and dances.

Dr. Weichu (Brian) Xu, the principal of the Massachusetts Beijing Language School, first welcomed the audience in Chinese. State Sen. Michael Moore, D-Millbury, and Dr. Jacob Conca, the principal of St. John's, then offered words of welcome in English.

Moore noted that this was his third time attending the festival.

“This is a great event, not just for Chinese culture but also for American culture,” he said. “Events like this help us to understand each other better.”

Conca noted that the school was “proud and honored to have such a phenomenal opportunity to bring these cultures together.”

“I would like to wish everyone a happy new year,” he added. “And much luck, love, prosperity and peace.”

The show started off with a traditional Chinese lion dance performed by members of the Family Kung Fu Center. The remainder of the show was filled with entertainment provided by students from the four different schools, as they showcased traditional and classic Chinese songs and dances. There were Kung Fu and Tae Bo demonstrations as well.

A group of students from China, the Beijing DaXing XingXing Choir, also performed several songs. Xu said the group had come to the United States as part of an exchange program with the Seven Hills Charter School in Worcester.

“We are so happy to have all these schools participate each year,” Xu said. “We would also like to wish everyone a happy new year and a happy Year of the Dragon.”

The Chinese New Year, which is also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important holiday of the year for the Chinese. Traditionally it is a festive celebration that marks the end of winter and also serves as a way to “sweep out the old and usher in the new.”

Chinese New Year's are named according to the 12 animals represented on the Chinese zodiac. The dragon, the symbol for 2012, represents power, strength and wisdom and is one of the most revered symbols in Chinese culture.

Here are some pictures, courtesy of Xu, from the event –