Gung Hay Fat Choi!
Happy New Year, that is the Chinese Lunar Year!
… old debts will be settled, new clothes purchased and homes cleaned and decorated to ring in the New Year with a fresh start. Families gather on the eve of the holiday, which lands on a Saturday this year, to hold a large feast and honour their ancestors. Over the following two weeks, people visit friends and relatives, bringing gifts of sweets, fruits and red envelopes stuffed with money. People also visit fortunetellers to seek insight into what the new year will hold. While many of the traditional customs are no longer commonly practised here in Canada, it remains a time for family gatherings and gift-giving. (more in the Vancouver Sun)
The greater Vancouver area has the third-largest Asian population in North America, after San Francisco and New York. More than 400,000 ethnic Chinese live in British Columbia. Many Chinese-Canadians fly to their homeland for the Lunar New Year, which typically begins with the new moon and ends two weeks later with the full moon.
Vancouver’s Chinese cultural history began with the 1858 British Columbia gold rush and the subsequent building of the trans-continental railway in the 19th century. Those workers and their descendants built Chinatown just east of what is now downtown Vancouver.
This year’s 2-hour parade starts at noon Sunday and winds through Chinatown, chiefly on Pender and Keefer streets. Its headquarters site is at Chinatown Plaza (180 Keefer St.), where events continue until 4 p.m. (from the Bellingham Herald)
Here’s a list of special events in Vancouver and Richmond. (Richmond is a suburb south of Vancouver and has become a kind of modern Chinatown with the more recent immigrants.)
(The image above is of an exquisite Chinese paper-cut given to me as a gift once – I know, it’s supposed to be a dog this year, but I didn’t have one! No cultural offence intended.)