If you hear a lot of clanging, banging, and other loud pops ringing in your ears over the coming weeks, it’s for good reason. Lunar New Year (in 2018, the Year of the Dog) is approaching!
What is Lunar New Year?
Lunar New Year is a celebration of the first day of the traditional lunisolar calendar, and is a time for gathering with loved ones. It is often called Chinese New Year, which is inaccurate. While the Chinese are the largest ethnic group celebrating Lunar New Year, it is also celebrated by Korean and Vietnamese cultures.
Get the Vacuum Out
People clean their homes thoroughly in anticipation of the holiday, up until New Year’s Eve. It is believed that good luck will only come into homes that are clean; if there is clutter and dirt, the good luck has nowhere to land. Brand new red clothes are purchased for the holiday, signifying a fresh start. Red is a lucky colour in Chinese culture, signifying health and prosperity. No cleaning is done on New Year’s Day, as it is believed that this will “sweep away” one’s good luck! Similarly, it is considered unlucky to wash your hair or bathe on New Year’s Day, lest your good luck get “washed away”.
Watch the (Loud!) Lion Dance
On New Year’s Day (in 2018 it falls on February 16th) you can attend Lunar New Year parades around Metro Vancouver, such as in Chinatown. You can watch the famous Lion Dance, accompanied by drums, cymbals, and firecrackers. It is believed loud noise scares away evil spirits. Gunpowder was invented in China thousands of years ago and firecrackers originated there.
Get Well Fed
Lunar New Year centres around family and food…lots of food! The dishes consumed have important significance. Dumplings are eaten, which signify wealth, as their shape is reminiscent of coin pouches. Dishes containing long, uncut noodles are consumed to signify longevity.
What are those Red Envelopes For?
Small red envelopes called hong bao are given to children and younger unmarried relatives by older married relatives. Cash (always crisp, new bills) is contained inside. The amount given varies but it will be an even number and will not contain the number “4” – a very unlucky number in Chinese culture!Did You Know? Small red envelopes called 'hong bao' are given to children and younger unmarried relatives by older married relatives on Lunar New Year Click To Tweet
Enjoy the Lantern Festival at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Chinatown in downtown Vancouver is the third largest Chinatown in North America. The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is well worth a visit at any time of year for its traditional architecture and rare trees. It shines, literally, during the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the New Year and continues until early March. The Lantern Festival is 2000 years old, and is known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.
Clean your backpack and locker, wear some red and make some loud noises during Lunar New Year. It may bring you good luck!