HONOUR BOUND: On Navigating The Fifteen Days Of The Lunar New Year Celebrations…
Morna Cassidy | Today is the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year and Vancouverites of every stripe are starting to shout their congratulations for making it through another one. Each of the next 15 days will mark the new year in a unique way. Families will visit, spouses will pay their respects to in-laws, folks will visit temples, excited kids will supervise the lighting of firecrackers (carefully), and everywhere will be food, food, food. Here’s our rundown of how Vancouverites can celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Dragon.
Day one is ”the welcoming of the gods of the heavens and earth.” Meat is avoided on this day (vegetarians rejoice) as the abstinence is believed to ensure a long and happy life. In homage to this, pay a visit to your favourite vegetarian joint for lunch or dinner. The Foundation on Main and The Naam in Kits are likely places to hit, but just about every restaurant in town has meatless options, even during Dine Out.
On the second day, the Chinese pray to their ancestors as well as to all the gods. For some westerners, praying to our ancestors can be interpreted as toasting them, so our suggestion is to head to one of your local watering holes to raise a glass. The Union, Bao Bei, Wild Rice and The Keefer each offer extensive cocktail lists with Asian inspirations that will have you honouring your roots while keeping the Chinese New Year top of mind. It’s also believed that the second day is the birthday of all dogs, so if you’re a canine owner, be sure to take your pooch for an extra walk or run on the beach.
The third and fourth days are for sons-in-law to pay their respects to their parents-in-law. Why not take this opportunity to take any of your extended family out for Dim Sum. Floata has tables for any sized family, and brunch at Sun Sui Wah is always restorative (be sure to book ahead).
The fifth day is called Po Woo. It’s when people stay home to welcome the God of Wealth. Given the rain in the forecast, there’s no better excuse for renting a movie on iTunes, streaming some Netflix or TVO, and tucking in for a night. Consider The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Wild China.
From the sixth to the tenth day, the Chinese visit their relatives and friends freely. They also visit temples to pray for good fortune and health. So dump your hibernative tendencies and go out to shake off the winter doldrums. Plan a lunch party with friends and follow it up with a stroll through Sun Yat-Sen Gardens. There are few better venues in this city to lose oneself.
The seventh day of the New Year is for farmers to display their produce. We suggest wandering over to the T&T Supermarket for a solid chow shop. The seventh day this year also happens to fall on the same day as the annual Chinese New Year parade. Since you’ll already be in the ‘hood, head down early and take in all the floats, dancers and costumes. It starts (Jan. 29th) at noon sharp at the Millennium Gate on Pender Street and proceeds east along Pender Street, turns south onto Gore Street, turns west onto Keefer Street and then disperses at Keefer and Columbia. The seventh day is also the birthday of all people, and when the earnest eat noodles for longevity.
On days eight through thirteen, the honouring of gods and gathering of friends and families continue. Explore more of the unique offerings at SYS Gardens, as they’re featuring an exhibition of traditional and contemporary artifacts (with a focus on dragons). Those looking for less sedate options should consider hosting a red party. Completely outfit the evening with red décor touches and include a dress code for guests. Or, get a group of friends together and head down to the beach to light off some firecrackers. The bangs and brilliant lights celebrate the new year while keeping mythical monsters at bay.
The fourteenth day should be reserved to prepare for the Lantern Festival, which is to be held on the 15th night. For those looking for the full, inclusive experience, purchase tickets for the Chinese Lantern Fest at Fraser Court Seafood Restaurant (3489 Fraser, 6-11pm, $45).
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
A self-professed lover of all things newsworthy and noteworthy, Morna Cassidy is an avid follower and critic of art and design, culture and trends. Previously working among the glitterati of the fashion world in Toronto and London, she recently left her sequined outfits to explore new adventures in Gore-tex (metaphorically speaking) here in Vancouver.