Chinese New Year Event for More than Just Chinese

Chinese New_Year_Photo_7

Photo Courtesy of the Peoria Chinese Association.

You may not know much about the Chinese New Year. This writer did not before writing this article. In a few weeks’ time, a celebration of the New Year will be held by two Chinese groups in Peoria for those of Chinese descent and those wanting to know more about the culture.

The Chinese New Year is the biggest event of the year for the Chinese. It has been a tradition for centuries in China and areas with a large Chinese population, such as various Chinatowns across the country. It is seen as a time of luck, happiness and prosperity.

In China, it is just like Christmas, B.J. Yang, Chair of the Peoria Chinese Association, says. Everyone gets the week off to celebrate, and it serves as a reunion for families.

The gathering of families may be somewhat significant since one of the focuses of the holiday is honoring ancestors and deities.

Traditions and customs vary by locations, but usually, a family dinner is had, the house is thoroughly cleansed of bad luck to make way for good fortune, and red lanterns and red couplets are hung in windows and doors.

The PCA, a non-profit organization serving the greater Peoria area since 1965, is one of the co-hosts of the 10-year-old event. It has over
2,000 members.

“The Association aims to bridge the gap between Chinese culture and the local community by fostering awareness, understanding and appreciation of the rich Chinese culture through participation, education and advocacy,” according to the PCA website.

The Caterpillar Chinese Resource Group is the other host. It has been around for five-and-a-half years. The CCRG was formed with the intention of fostering and “promoting diversity awareness and reinforcing an inclusive culture,” according to Caterpillar’s website. As part of its promotion, the Caterpillar group helps to organize activities like the
New Year celebration.

Every Chinese New Year is different and has a different meaning, Yang says. This is due to each year having a different animal. Last year was the Year of the Snake. This time it is the Year of the Horse, which represents success.

To commemorate the New Year, a lunch will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. and noon-1:30 p.m. on Feb. 3 at Sushi KO at 4700 N. University St., Peoria. Later that same day, there will be a variety show at 2 p.m. at Dunlap
High School.

The variety show tends to consist of over 20 different acts made up of traditional Chinese dance. Some other types of music will be present, too. Chinese dinner will also be provided.

It is customary for the mayor and a distinguished person from Caterpillar to make a speech at the beginning of the event, as well.

Tickets for both lunch and the show are $12 if bought in advance and $15 at the door. If you only want to go to the show, tickets are $6 in advance and $8 at the door. For more ticket information, you can call 309-578-0047 or email or

The PCA does its fair share of donation work. Every year, a donation drive is done for a different charity. Relief for the November tornado victims is the focus for this year. Donations of any amount are welcome. Part of the proceeds from the event will also go towards the charity. For more donation information, you can email

Yang wants people to walk away from this event with an understanding of how big an organization there is for Chinese in the community and an awareness of the different services the PCA offers for people who want to learn more about the culture and language of China.