Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Celebrate Chinese New Year in Richmond, BC


The celebrations aren't over! Chinese New Year, which is January 31 this year, is a second chance to say farewell to bad habits and bring in some good ones. Also called the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is the largest celebration of the year for many cultures throughout Asia. Chinese New Year 2014 is the Year of the Horse, supposedly a lucky year.

One of North America's most authentic and elaborate Chinese New Year celebrations is in Richmond, BC. With a Chinese population of more than 44% (Canada's largest per capita percentage of Chinese descendants), Richmond is celebrating for two weeks, from January 24-February 8. Events include traditional lion and dragon dances, live music, art displays flower markets, gift fairs and food. 

Lunch at one of Richmond's many Asian restaurants. Photo by Sue Frause.
During Chinese New Year, many of Richmond's 400 Asian restaurants will be offering 10-12 course New Year's Eve feasts on January 30. Also known as the reunion dinner, it's the most important meal of the year, a time for bonding and giving thanks. Plus it's a time for eating purposefully and symbolically. Noodles represent long life; dumplings shaped like ancient Chinese money are for wealth and prosperity; lettuce wraps play on the Chinese word for fortune, which is also the word for lettuce; and the head and tail of a fish served whole symbolize a good start and end to the year. Among the many restaurants featuring reunion dinners are Fisherman's Terrace, The Jade Seafood Restaurant, Sea Harbour Seafood, Vivacity and Suhang. Reservations are advised.

Even YVR (Vancouver International Airport in Richmond) is getting into the Lunar New Year. After all, YVR has the highest frequency of flights to China (75 each week) of any North American Airport. On Friday, January 31, airport retailers and restaurants will be offering special deals, with lunch specials for just $8.88 (eight is considered a lucky number in the Chinese culture). 

From 10 AM to 1 PM on January 31, gather 'round Bill Reid's The Spirit of Haida Gwaii: The Jade Canoe sculpture. There will be live music, Chinese ink brush calligraphy demonstrations, fortune telling and a traditional lion dance. Visitors will be able to park for $5 between 9-2; pick up vouchers at the customer care desk in the International Terminal, departures level. Or take the Canada Line to YVR.
A complete list of Chinese New Year events may be found at Tourism Richmond's website