Lunar New Year brings three weeks of celebrations to Victoria’s Chinatown

Lunar New Year brings three weeks of celebrations to Victoria's Chinatown

After two years of pandemic cancelled festivities, Canada’s oldest Chinatown is bringing back in-person Lunar New Year celebrations.

Victoria is welcoming the year of the rabbit with three weeks of celebrations to kick off the lunar calendar, which is based on the moon’s cycles and falls on a different day each year. In 2023, the Lunar New Year begins on Jan. 22.

“We are happy it is a rabbit year because it’s a more peaceful, more loving, more caring year. Which we all need,” said former city councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe with the Chinese Canadian Museum Fan Tan Alley Exhibit.

Each year is named after one of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac in a repeating cycle, starting with the rat and running through the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

The zodiac is crucial to understanding people and their health, wealth and love, and those born in the Year of the Rabbit including 2023, 2011, 1999, 1987 and every 12-year cycle before that are associated with qualities like calm, empathy, patience and ingenuity.

The local museum’s festivities got underway on Sunday with New Year’s cake tastings and red envelop distributions to children. Events are planned until the end of Feb. 5.

“Next week, of course, we have an I-Ching fortune telling, and we have the lion dance,” Thornton-Joe told CHEK News in an interview.

(List of Lunar New Year events hosted by the Chinese Canadian Museum.)

The Lion Dance Parade will take place in Chinatown on Jan. 29 at noon, featuring dancers from the Wong Sheung Kung Fu Club.

“I’ve been lion dancing for about 31 years, so it’s good to be back in the saddle and get things going again,” said Daniel Low, one of the lion dancers.

The dances, a form of traditional dance in China and other Asian countries, date back thousands of years and are usually performed in colourful costumes, with a front dancer controlling a giant lion mask while another at the back controls the body and legs. The performances often feature loud drums and cymbals.

Low says there is a lot of pent-up excitement for the parade, which he believes will draw big crowds.

It’s a tradition that brings the lions to businesses and stores throughout Chinatown to collect offerings from the businesses and bless them for the year.

“I expect thousands to show up,” Low said. “Which will be great.”

He says it’s always good to see people of all cultures come to watch and celebrate, adding that culture is meant to be shared.

The complete list of Lunar New Year celebrations can be found on the Chinese Canadian Museum website.

-With files from The Canadian Press

Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

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