The Asian American Center of Frederick kicked off another celebration of the Lunar New Year Saturday with cultural traditions and a Beijing opera.

About 400 people were in attendance of the celebration at Frederick Community College that hosted Chinese souvenirs, traditional Chinese food and a performance by the DC Beauty of Beijing Opera.

The opera performance started with a brief history of Beijing opera and an explanation and interpretation of the visual aspects of the performance. The performance told stories of ancient China.

Souvenirs available at the event included Chinese-inspired necklaces, head bands, fans and pig stuffed animals — as it’s the year of the pig.

People also filed into a long line for some traditional food like dumplings, egg rolls and curry chicken as the savory aromas of the food filtered throughout the room.

The Chinese New Year was on Feb. 5, but AACF celebrates the whole month of February, according to Hongwei Xu, committee chair and coordinator of the event.

Event attendee Mei Zheng is originally from China but has lived in Frederick for about 15 years.

She brought her kids to the opera to show them the traditional aspects of Chinese culture.

To keep with tradition, she celebrates the Lunar New Year every year.

“We cook our traditional foods for Chinese New Year, and we do fireworks,” she said. “We also visit our friends and families.”

She said as the Chinese population grows in Frederick, it’s important to share their culture with everyone in the community. As for the opera, she said her kids were excited to see the performance.

“Everything we talk about, like Chinese things, they’re so interested in because they were born here,” she said, explaining that because her kids have never been to China, they are interested in learning about their mother’s culture.

Xu said there was never a Beijing opera in Frederick, but it’s a Chinese treasure which is why AACF decided to host the performance in observance of the holiday.

“This is an educational event,” she said. “We’re trying to educate people on the different cultures.”

Frederick may not have a very large Chinese population, but it’s getting more diverse, she said. The Chinese population in Frederick still celebrates the Lunar New Year and they want to share in the celebration with everyone in the community.

“We thought it would be a good opportunity for people to learn about Chinese culture,” she said. “The Beijing opera will show them some of the most famous Chinese legends and also the basic Chinese opera, which is very different from Western operas.”

The event was held to promote the unique aspects of the Chinese culture as well as celebrate the Chinese New Year.

“The United States is a melting pot with people from different cultures,” she said. “We’re just one of the groups and the more people know about it, the more people will accept each other. I see all of these people coming to the event. You feel the support and it’s very exciting.”

Follow CJ Fairfield on Twitter @FairfieldCj.

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