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The most important festival of the year
- Chinese New Years...

by Ronald Lee

On February 19, 2015, Calgary’s Chinese community will usher in the year of the Sheep. The first day of the Lunar Calendar known as “Chun Jie” (the Spring Festival) is also the New Year’s day of the Lunar Calendar. “Chun Jie” traditions may vary from province to province or village to village. The common features of the celebrations include ceremonies of sweeping out the old and welcoming in the new, good luck charms for prosperity, community celebratory meals, visiting relatives, and entertainment activities.

People begin to clean their houses from the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month and usually lasts until the 23th day. The cleaning of the house aims to get rid of the bad luck and take on a new look.

When the clock strikes twelve at midnight of New Year’s Eve people will eat “Jiao zi” because the term means, “the new replaces the old in the New Year”. “Jiao zi” is made of flour in the shape of silver ingots and plates of the dumplings on a table implies the good wish of “making a big fortune in the new and gold ingots will arrive.”

In Calgary, the new Chinese immigrants and the Canadian born Chinese do not celebrate the festivals to the same extent in China due to the fact their traditional extended families remain in China. However, some traditions still exist in a traditional Chinese family in Calgary such as the buying of new clothes, presenting “Ya Sui” (lucky money in a red envelope given by the elders to children), eating a family meal with traditional dishes on New Year’s Eve and visiting relatives. Today some families communicate with their family on Skype or WeChat on New Year’s Eve and watch live New Year’s celebrations in China online.

The Chinese Community Associations may hold New Year’s Eve celebrations by renting a large restaurant and inviting their relatives and friends to celebrate the New Year. The Sien Lok Society of Calgary holds an elaborate Chinese New Year’s feast in Chinatown that is open to all members of the Sien Lok society, their friends, business acquaintances and the general public who wish to purchase a ticket to the event.

The celebration includes many of the customs found in mainland China such as a ten-course meal of food that brings good fortune, dragon or lion dancing, singing, dancing, drinking of spirits, lucky draws, gift giving and renewing friendships.

Moreover, the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre hosts a New Year’s Carnival on February 14 and 15, 2015Saturday and Sunday that attracts over 10,000 visitors. The “2015 Year of the Sheep Chinese New Year Carnival” features programs and performances of traditional Dragon & Lion Dance, festival music and dance, martial art demonstration, vocal singing, folk art demonstration, festival food, games, artworks exhibition and an indoor bazaar of trade booths selling all sorts of gifts and festival items.

Dignitaries who attend the events on an annual basis may include the Lt. Governor, the Premier, MLA’s, council members and the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China.

 

More on upcoming Chinese New Year events, click here.

More about the "Year of the Sheep", click here.