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At Mark Gau and Maura Fallon's house on Aberdeen Terrace, a party of sorts is forming.

Members of The Greensboro Chinese Association have gathered to make Chinese dumplings, drink green tea, tie Chinese knots and practice the art of Chinese calligraphy.A Chinese New Year preview.

The Chinese New Year - the Year of the Horse - falls on Saturday, the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. To celebrate, the Chinese Association will stage its fifth annual Chinese New Year Celebration in the Blue Room of the Greensboro Coliseum.

The celebration is a way for the Chinese community to show people that their culture is more than just moo goo gai pan, the standard Chinese restaurant fare.

In addition to their demonstrations of native crafts, the celebration will feature entertainment, including the lion dance, a dance use to ward off evil spirits. In places such as Chinatown in San Francisco, the lion could stretch several hundred feet long. Because of space restrictions, this one will be a four-person lion, Gau says.

Haishan Zhou and Jun Gau, N.C. A&T University students, are busy making the Chinese dumplings that are a must for any Chinese New year celebration.

The dumplings are small, crescent-shaped dough filled with a combination of pork, cabbage and other seasonings. With her Chinese rolling pin, Zhou deftly rolls out a dumpling about the size of a silver dollar, puts in a dab of filling and pinches it closed. The dumplings will be dropped into boiling water for about five minutes. When they float to the top, they're ready.

At the celebration, Zhou will demonstrate the technique and have recipes for dumplings and other Chinese cuisine.

Shih-Min Liu Wu, 55, remembers her mother making dozens of dumplings for Chinese New Year celebrations back in her homeland. Three of the dumplings were special. One contained a coin, signifying a lucrative year; another was seasoned with sugar instead of salt, indicating a sweet year; and the third contained crumbs, which in Chinese is pronounced the same as the word for ``luck.'

Wu cooks, but because she was encouraged by her father, she concentrates her efforts on calligraphy. During the New Year celebration, she'll show people how to write their names in Chinese, a language that uses characters instead of letters to form words.

The character system works similarly to a rebus, where pictures of things that sound like the word are put together to make the word.

While Chinese people use ball points for everyday writing, they use fountain pens when a more artistic effect is desired. The real masters use brushes, extremely difficult to control, but which produce beautifully formed characters.

Wu holds a book containing examples of characters done by a master calligrapher.

``I'm far away from this,' she says.

At the celebration, she'll help people understand the method behind the 8,000 Chinese characters the Chinese use to communicate.

Mei-Shin Mong, 26, a nutrition major at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, works on a knot of silver silk. Other knots of colorful silk thread tied around cloisonne shapes lay beside her.

Knotting is an ancient Chinese art practiced as long ago as 1766 B.C., when it first became fashionable among the Chinese to wear jade. The kind of jade worn designated social status. The jade was worn on strings decorated with knots. Later, knots were used to decorate garments, gifts, fans, drapes and musical instruments.

Mong makes jewelry using everything from the simplest ``button' knots, which take about five minutes to tie, to the more intricate ``butterfly' knots that take up to an hour.

This year's celebration won't include the sale of food, as it usually does, because the coliseum contract prohibits it. But some Greensboro Chinese restaurants - Lin's Garden, Peking, Golden Palace and Hong Kong House - will offer special New Year dishes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Videos showing the collections of the National Palace Museum will be shown. Crafts will be sold.

Public invited

The Chinese New Year Celebration will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the Blue Room of the Greensboro Coliseum. Admission is $1 for adults, 50 cents for children under 12. Separate charges may apply at workshop booths. Parking is $1. The Vietnamese Community of Greensboro will host the Year of the Horse Vietnamese New Year Celebration at 3 p.m. Saturday at College Place United Methodist Church, 999 Spring Garden St. The program will include a New Year's ceremony and dinner, a dragon dance, New Year pocket money for children 7 and younger, Tet songs and plays and a lottery. The events are free.


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