How you can help celebrate the Lunar New Year in Victoria safely

How you can help celebrate the Lunar New Year in Victoria safely
WatchFor the first time in decades, Lunar New Year festivities in Victoria's historic Chinatown are cancelled but there are still ways to celebrate. Tess van Straaten reports.

Lion dances and packed festivities usually herald in the Lunar New Year in Victoria at Canada’s oldest and North America’s second-oldest Chinatown.

But with the COVID pandemic, things will look a lot different this year.

“Because of COVID, not only can we not do it, we should not be doing this so I thought, how can we all celebrate together while staying apart?” says Victoria city councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

Instead of gathering for Chinese New Year, Thornton-Joe is bringing a motion to council on Thursday asking people to wear red on Feb. 12 and to show support for the Chinese community in a colourful way all month.

“I’m encouraging citizens of Victoria as well as the entire region to celebrate by decorating their doorways, the outside of their houses in Chinese decorations, lanterns, or anything in the colour red,” she says.

That’s because in Chinese culture, red is symbolic of good luck.

“Red bring us prosperous and wealth and hopefully everybody stays safe,” explains Ken Leung of Fisgard Market. “Red is basically the main colour for celebration, that’s why most of the stuff is red. Red hopefully bring us good luck.”

It’s also a good time to try different delicacies, like the crispy pork at Loy Sing Market — which happens to be the oldest Chinese business still in existence in North America — and to visit Chinatown.

“Come to Chinatown and do some shopping, which is so important to businesses because they really rely on your patronage right now during COVID and if you have a favourite Chinese restaurant, go there for a meal or to get takeout,” Thornton-Joe suggests.

As we say goodbye to the Year of the Rat and welcome the Year of the Ox, here’s hoping it will be a happier, healthier and more prosperous New Year.

READ MORE: Victoria Chinese community reunion celebrates rich history

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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