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Antilles School Celebrates Chinese New Year

Feb. 23, 2007– There were three dancing dragons and a parade of students with gongs, noisemakers and traditional music in a Chinese New Year celebration at the Antilles School Thursday morning.
Although the Year of the Pig officially began on Sunday, Feb. 18, it is common to celebrate the event for the entire week, and Antilles is doing just that. More than 50 students involved in both the Mandarin Chinese program and third-grade art students paraded around campus and through all the buildings as people stood, clapped and cheered.
Organized by language teacher Moira Gargano, the dragon dances were postponed for two days from Tuesday because of the much-needed rain. Approximately 25 students are studying the language, now in its second year at Antilles. Gargano said that many schools offer Chinese as an acknowledgement to China’s growing status in the global economy and the Olympics. Teachers are even being recruited from China to meet the educational needs of students in the U.S.
As is customary, the students were armed with noisemakers, pots and pan lids to drive away evil spirits. Those spirits were sent scurrying as the parade wove its way through campus. There was a special enthusiasm in the noisemaking, and the decibel level rose as the procession entered the class buildings, the gymnasium and library. The Antilles’ New Year celebration was a rousing success, as students and teachers commented on the importance or learning about and celebrating other cultures.
The years are named according to the Chinese zodiac and follow a particular order: Rat (yang), Ox (yin), Tiger (yang), Rabbit (yin), Dragon (yang), Snake (yin), Horse (yang), Sheep (yin), Monkey (yang), Rooster (yin), Dog (yang) and Pig (yin). In addition to this 12-year cycle, each animal is ascribed an element (wood, fire, earth, metal or water), thus it is really a 60-year cycle. This is the Year of the Red or Fire Pig.
People born under the sign of the pig are said to be compassionate, giving and patient. Pigs are thought to be a lucky symbol, one of great prosperity.
Some famous people born in pig years include Hillary Rodham Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Bowie, Elton John, Winona Ryder and Marie Antoinette.
In a sign of the times, it may be the Year of the Pig, but in China, the government has said that it is not permissible to show pictures of pigs because they are offensive to Muslims. Although they represent only two percent of the population, Muslims have praised the ban, saying that it shows how inclusive China is trying to be. The ban has been enforced in a confusing manner, with some animated pigs allowed as part of commercial ventures. Several large international companies are adhering to the ban, fearing severe economic penalties.

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