With the holidays over and credit card bills piling up, January can be a bit of a downer. But, for those who celebrate Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, which lands on January 31 this year, the festivities surrounding the holiday will lift your spirits with parades, martial arts performances, festivals and good eats. So, don some red for good luck and check out a few of the ways to ring in the Year of the Horse.
The days leading up to Chinese New Year are often spent shopping and browsing at night markets and fairs with the family. Chinese night markets are filled with vendors who sell everything under the sun: flowers, snacks, pastries, bubble tea, gifts, household items, accessories and other novelties. Even if you aren’t looking to spend any money, the crowds and selection of merchandise make these spots worth a visit. The Aberdeen Centre and Yaohan Centre in Richmond B.C. and First Markham Place in Markham, ON all have markets set up.
Celebrate with friends and family by starting any day over the Chinese New Year period in Chinatown with a tabletop full of dim sum dishes like har gow (shrimp dumplings), siu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings), barbecue pork buns and egg custard tarts. Go early, though, as restaurants get especially packed on special occasions. When it comes to dim sum, the more people, the merrier, so get a group together and skip the usual brunch.
In Vancouver, watch as acrobatic martial artists leap, climb, and bring lion and dragon costumes to life with dances choreographed to the beat of drums and cymbals.
The parade takes place on Feb 2, with the route starting at the Millenium Gate on Pender Street and ending on Keefer Street.
In Ottawa, the parade takes places in Chinatown on Feb 8.
Martial arts performances, lion dances and shows
In addition to parades, lion dance performances can be seen in major Chinese shopping centres on Jan 31, where the dance weaves from store-to-store to bring good luck to the merchants. Many shopping centres will have stages in the main area where there will be games, giveaways and performances from music to martial arts.
Just 30 minutes north of Toronto in the city of Markham, First Markham Mall, Market Village and Pacific Mall are all must-visits during Chinese New Year. In Richmond, B.C., Aberdeen Centre and Yaohan Centre are the places to be.
Traditionally, the fifteenth day of Chinese New Year is the Lantern Festival (not to be confused with the lantern festival that’s part of mid-autumn celebrations), which also marks the end of New Year festivities. At most lantern festivals, riddles are written on the red lanterns, and visitors must solve for these riddles for prizes.
In many cities today, lantern festivals are no longer held on the fifteenth day of Chinese New Year. Instead, they take place over the weekend nearest that day. Nevertheless, they still manage to celebrate the essence of the occasion.