Preparations underway for Lunar New Year in the capital city

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Dave Citra has worked for 20 years on this 12-foot dragon statue.

The upcoming Lunar New Year is the Year of the Dragon and 2024 is associated with wood, which hits close to home for a Colwood man.

From a sketch, to in the flesh, the 12-foot labour of love took retired teacher Dave Citra around 4,000 hours across 20 years.

“It’s all western red cedar, which I’m allergic to,” said Citra.

Every single scale was hand-sanded and hot glued together. A feat of engineering as much as it is an art piece.

“I never bought a single piece of wood. It was all junk that was in the scrap bin,” said Citra.

Citra is unveiling his wooden dragon on a fitting week. Saturday is Lunar New Year, and this upcoming year is the Year of the Dragon: a wood dragon, where the elements are concerned.

“The next year of the dragon I’ll be 135, so I thought this was the time,” said Citra with a smile.

In Victoria’s Chinatown, preparations are underway.

“People want their babies born in the dragon year, it’s a most important mythological being it’s a sign of charisma, it’s a sign of courage, the sign of leadership,” said Charlayne Thornton-Joe with the Chinese Canadian Museum.

“A lot of people are cleaning their homes. You don’t want to start the new year with a dirty home, you’ll try to pay as many debts as you can, you decorate in red because red symbolizes good luck.”

Mandarin oranges, with the leaves intact as a symbol of spring and new beginnings are being bought, along with Chinese grapefruit, chicken, whole fish, and lots of noodles.

“Food is very important. You may start your day with a totally vegetarian food because you don’t want to start the year with taking a life,” said Thornton-Joe.

The capital region will be hosting lion dances throughout the weekend, but for the oldest Chinatown in Canada, their main lion dance is two weeks from now, on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 11:30 a.m.

This weekend the Chinese Canadian Museum in Fan Tan Alley will be open with special tastings of dragons beard and lychee fruit and a reading from author Julie Lawson who wrote the novel White Jade Tiger.

The Year of the Dragon, the wooden dragon, is a year thought to be characterized by generosity and care.

READ MORE FROM 2023: Chinese New Year celebrations to take over Chinatown in Victoria Sunday

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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