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Pamela Chan, Editorial/BCFamily.ca

As we inch towards the eve of Chinese New Year, many people in British Columbia might not celebrate this holiday as they do not have a personal connection to the Chinese culture.  If your family falls into this category but you’d still like to enjoy the festivities, here are a few ideas that you can try during the 15 day Chinese New Years celebrations.

Chinese New Year falls on Monday, February 8th this year – with celebrations continuing for the following 15 days.  If you can’t make it to a local Chinese New Year parade, there are other ways that you can celebrate the New Year:

  • Visit a local Chinese restaurant within the first week after February 8th. The eve of February 8th is a busy day when many families like to go out to restaurants. Families will continue to get together for special meals during the week following New Years day. Some local restaurants that are popular include Dynasty (on Broadway), Victoria Chinese (off of Burrard), Red Star in Marpole and Sea Harbour (in Richmond). If you can, call ahead to make a booking. When you are choosing a restaurant, read up on the differences between northern and southern Chinese cuisine.  Some regional cuisine emphasize more vegetables while others have more noodles or spicy foods.

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  • Visit a T&T grocery store, or a bakery with Asian style baked goods,  to pick up some seasonal food items. There are bakeries that sell Chinese style baked goods such as egg tarts or western style goods such as cakes and bread, made to suit the tastes of customers from Asia. Some suggestions are La PatisserieAnna’s Cake House and Michele Cake Shop. If you like light, spongy cakes and haven’t visited a Chinese bakery, you will need to investigate this tip :) .
  • Visit a shopping mall that features Chinese products, including decorations.  Many of them will be holding Chinese New Years events. In the Lower Mainland some options are Landsdowne Centre and Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, International Village Mall near Stadium station and Henderson Place in Coquitlam. Check out the malls’ websites for information about Chinese New Year events that will take place over the next week. (Make sure to check again in September for Mid Autumn festivities.)

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  • Traditional Chinese clothing for girls and boys (and women too) is relatively inexpensive and attractive. You will find this type of clothing for sale at the malls mentioned above and in China Town.
  • Visit the Sun Yat-Sen Gardens in China Town, Vancouver – reminiscent of the gardens you can see in Suzhou, China. During Chinese New Years there are special events taking place at the garden. Check out the neighbouring shops – including the stores selling vegetables that you can take home to cook.

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  • Set up a Chinese New Year display in your home. Use whatever items you have (EG your new lantern) and include monkey imagery (for year of the monkey), red, gold and/or oranges, which symbolize happiness and prosperity.
  • Buy ready made Chinese dim sum food items that you can cook up at home.  Cook vegetables such as bok choy (we like baby bok choy) or other regional vegetables. Look on YouTube for cooking instructions. Here’s an example of how to cook pea shoots (which are really yummy, by the way). Another popular way to cook Chinese greens is with slices of fresh ginger. If you don’t have a wok, they’re a useful cooking tool for your kitchen.  The All-Clad brand is a touch pricey but is worth the investment. Make sure you get one with a lid.

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  • Check out some story books from the library featuring Chinese New Year or Chinese cultural topics. You might also find cooking books that feature Chinese cooking recipes.

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  • Look at books that feature Chinese artwork and history. We have a calendar that we cut up.  We put it together to build a reproduction of an ancient scroll.
  • Listen to traditional or contemporary Chinese music streamed online.  Watch historical dramas depicting ancient China or modern drams.  You can watch translated TV dramas using the Drama Fever or Viki TV apps.  (Both are available for online viewing as well.) Or check out viewing options on YouTube.
  • Get inspired and think about signing your children or yourself up for Chinese language,  dance, martial arts or Chinese brush painting classes. Your local community centre might hold these types of classes.
  • There are many superstitions related to Chinese New Years such as not cutting your hair, making sure your house is clean and buying a new outfit for Chinese New Years. You don’t have to follow these ideas but you can copy the most important one which is to get together with your family for a meal.  If you don’t feel like going out to a restaurant, you can always order in or get take out from a local Chinese restaurant. Make sure you check the reviews online – or talk with friends who know the local restaurants – before making your choice.

How do you celebrate Chinese New Year in your family?  You can comment about this posting below or on the BCFamily.ca Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!

Related

There are different ways to say Happy New Year and different ways to pronounce the greeting depending on whether you are speaking Cantonese or Mandarin.

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