Chinese New Year: a celebration of diversity and culture
We are so fortunate to live in a city where there are many opportunities throughout the year to celebrate the different cultures and diversities that make us special.
Each year, I take part in organizing the City of Vaughan’s Chinese New Year event at City Hall because it’s an occasion that’s very close to my heart. It’s a time for family and friends to gather together to welcome in new opportunities and blessings for the upcoming lunar year.
I encourage you to join me on Sunday, Jan. 31 at Vaughan City Hall to usher in the Year of the Monkey. This will be a great opportunity for families of all cultures to experience and learn more about Chinese New Year, its customs and traditions.
This is a great event and we couldn’t do it alone – it’s held in partnership with the Federation of Chinese Canadians in Vaughan (FCCV). I would also like to thank our event sponsors, PowerStream, The Remington Group, Splendid China Mall, Senator Homes and Madison Homes, our food sponsor – Paradise Banquet and Convention Centre, and our entertainment partners, cmg Artist Management and Polygon Production.
This year’s festivities will include a traditional lion dance, an eye-dotting ceremony, and a number of Chinese games and crafts. There will also be special cultural performances, including Japanese drumming along with song and dance routines. This year’s program also includes a special appearance by Jonas M. and the Grand Illusion of Neil Croswell and Ashley Da Silva.
For those who are not familiar with Chinese New Year, here are some interesting facts:
Chinese New Year highlights
- Each year is named after one of the 12 animals associated with the Chinese zodiac.
- This year is the Year of the Monkey, which begins Feb. 8, 2016 and ends on Jan. 27, 2017.
- According to history.ca, one-sixth of the world’s population, including one-billion Chinese citizens celebrate Chinese New Year every year. The Spring Festival is not only observed by the Chinese – other countries that follow the lunar calendar celebrate the occasion as well, including Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea and Singapore.
Chinese New Year traditions
- Lucky money, also known as “hong bao,” is placed in red envelopes and given to unmarried adults and children as a form of good luck for the upcoming lunar year. Traditionally, these envelopes were symbols to ward off evil and protect children, hence its name.
- Before the lunar New Year, it is the tradition for families to clean up their houses as a way to remove bad luck and to begin the year with a clean, fresh start.
- Make sure your pantry is fully stocked with rice – this symbolizes a good harvest and prosperity in your career and/or business.
- It is considered unlucky to wash your hair on New Year’s Day because it could wash away good luck. Sweeping floors could also “sweep” away your good luck.
- The Chinese New Year feast traditionally includes steamed whole fish. Fish represents a good start to the year as it is a Chinese metaphor for abundance.
- Long uncut noodles represent good fortune and longevity.
- Rice cakes, also known as “nian gao,” are a traditional favourite. This treat is served in a variety of ways – pan fried, baked or steamed – depending on personal preference. The sweet glutinous cake is served throughout the holiday and symbolizes achieving new heights in the upcoming year.
- Dumplings come in all shapes, sizes and flavours. For Chinese New Year, sweet rice dumplings (“tang yuen”) filled with nuts, sugar, beans or sesame seeds are served in a sweet ginger syrup. They are offered as desserts after the New Year feast.
- Families put out festive trays that are filled with an assortment of dried fruits, nuts and candies.
What preparations are you and your family undertaking to welcome in the Chinese New Year? I encourage you to share your stories in the comment section below and don’t forget to save the date for Jan. 31!
I look forward to seeing you all there and I wish you a happy and prosperous Year of the Monkey!
Gong Hei Fat Choy!!!
Sandra Yeung Racco
Ward 4 Councillor
Visit the City of Vaughan’s website at vaughan.ca.