Harry Wang, 3, finds fingers are ideal for moving dumplings from the plate to his mouth at the New Year meal.
Many of the people inside the Toledo Chinese Alliance Church had already prepared and eaten dumplings on Saturday night, but they were back in the kitchen cooking them again yesterday.
"It's a tradition," parishioner Aileen Chou said.
Yesterday marked the Chinese New Year, which was celebrated at the church on West Central Avenue by about 30 parishioners who made traditional dumplings following a religious service.
Dumplings - shredded meat or seafood and vegetables wrapped in dough and boiled or fried - have been viewed as an important food on the Chinese New Year for centuries.
Often shaped like a gold or silver nugget, they symbolize wealth in Chinese culture.
Ms. Chou said many Chinese families, especially from the northern part of the country, serve dumplings, or jiaozi, on Lunar New Year's Eve.
Helen Zhu ladles out tasty cooked dumplings, a traditional symbol of wealth.
The pastor of the Chinese Christian church in Toledo, the Rev. Sze Ho Lui, said yesterday's small dumpling feast would be the only New Year's celebration his church would hold this year.
"We have so many people who are elsewhere celebrating the New Year with their families that this is all we will do," said Pastor Lui, adding that his church has about 70 parishioners.
"Each family has its own traditions, and most celebrate the New Year at home."
This is the Year of the Pig on the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac, which follows the lunar calendar.
The pig is one of 12 animals either real or mystical on the zodiac cycle, and brings with it mixed messages for those trying to predict what kind of year to expect.
Some Chinese fortune tellers, like Hong Kong feng shui master Raymond Lo, predict the Year of the Pig will bring with it more "gun battles, murder with guns, and bombing attacks in 2007."
Malaysian feng shui master Lillian Too agreed, and said she feared there could be natural disasters that rivaled those in recent years.
But the people making dumplings at the Chinese Church in Toledo yesterday disagreed.
Ms. Chou, for one, said pig years are supposed to symbolize financial wealth.
"This is the year to invest," she said.
Others, like Helen Zhu, agreed with Ms. Chou and said Chinese couples often rush to have babies during pig years because those children will be blessed with good luck.
Ms. Zhu said pig years are not ominous in the eyes of Chinese people, but "we cannot predict natural disasters or things like that," she said. "But everyone has good wishes for the new year."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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