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Lunar New Year brings out revelers

Don't forget to wish your Chinese friends a "Sun Nean Fai Lok."

Chinese-Americans, along with other Utah Asians, gathered for celebrations throughout the state this weekend to mark the Lunar New Year."It's the most important holiday of the year in China," said Schuanyong Bai, a University of Utah student and one of the organizers of Saturday's downtown festival. "We celebrate for two weeks."

The Lunar New Year takes place between January and the end of February.

The starting date is usually different each year on the Western calendar because it's determined using a Chinese lunar calendar where months begin with the moon.

Each lunar year is celebrated by an animal.

This year's animal? The tiger.

"It's a positive year; we remind each other to be active and enthusiastic like a tiger," Bai said.

Saturday's Chinese celebration at the U. featured traditional music, dance and boxes stuffed with food.

Vietnamese Utahns marked the new year last weekend with the traditional Tet festival.

Tam Huynh, publisher of the local Viet News newspaper, admits the celebration is somewhat abbreviated in his new country.

"In Vietnam, the festival went on for three days. Now we usually just celebrate on a weekend because everybody has to work during the week," Huynh said.

Huynh and others mark the first day of the Lunar New Year by eating traditional banh chung - rice cake - dressing in new clothes, and giving gifts to children to ensure a year of good luck.

"This is a land of diversity, but it's important to keep this tradition," he said.