MONKEY

The Year of the Lamb is ending and the Year of the Monkey begins.

Those not familiar with the Chinese zodiac and calendar might find this confusing. But Saturday’s celebration of the Chinese New Year will give local residents a window into the culture and traditions of the city’s more than 500 Chinese-speaking residents.

Welcoming of the new year is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture, said Johnny Tsat, president of the Columbus Chinese Association, which organizes the event.

“If we were in Taiwan or mainland China, this would be — at least — a week-long event,” Tsat said.

The association’s annual Chinese New Year Gala will be at Columbus North High School, 1400 25th St. It’s a full week before the new year’s actual Feb. 8 calendar date.

The gala represents the public face of the annual celebration, said Jinchao Lu, CCA vice president. For many Chinese residents, the holiday will continue at home, with family members traveling from across the globe to be with each other on the days leading up to the new year.

At the gala, Chinese musicians will perform traditional music. A choir from the Columbus Chinese Language School will be singing new year’s songs from both Taiwan and mainland China.

The biggest addition this year is a troupe of White Lion dancers from Indianapolis, Lu said. These performers don long, two-person lion costumes and perform a series of movements based on traditional Chinese martial arts.

Last year’s event fell on a Sunday, attracting about 350 people. Tsat said he hopes this year’s Saturday schedule will allow more people to attend.

If you go

Chinese New Years gala, dinner

When: Gale from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, with dinner running through 8 p.m.

Where: Columbus North High School

Price: $10 per adult for gala and performance; $10 for traditional Chinese dinner. For children under 5 years old, $5 for a combination ticket for both events.

On the menu

Along with the main event, Columbus residents will be able to join the Chinese community in a traditional New Year’s dinner. This will include a few recognizable dishes and a few more unusual treats, said Johnny Tsat, Columbus Chinese Association president.

On the menu:

  • Sliced beef tongue
  • Sliced beef tripe
  • Stewed pork
  • Fried beet tripe
  • Chinese cocktail shrimp
  • Fried Chinese duck
  • Pan fried Bok Choy

About 40 members of the CCA are also waking up early on the morning of event to prepare more than 4,000 traditional steamed dumplings from scratch, Tsat said.

An optional, mildly alcoholic dessert of fermented rice will also be available for a small additional charge.