The winter holidays may be over, but the celebrations have just begun for those who celebrate Chinese New Year.
This year, the start of the 15-day celebration begins on Monday. The date for this is determined by the lunisolar calendar, which refers to the moon phase and time of the solar year.
It’s a holiday that’s very family oriented, and every year workers in China will make huge migrations to be home in time for New Year’s Eve.
“Usually, New Year’s Eve is the time the family will get together for sure,” says Chai Thompson, the president of the Mulan Chinese Culture Centre in Halifax. “The older generation will give the younger generation red envelopes, which will have some money inside instead of gifts.”
These envelopes are also called lucky money, and Thompson says these envelopes aren’t given to just immediate family — aunts and uncles will hand them out as well.
The envelopes are decorated in red and gold, the two colours for the holiday. Red represents good luck and prosperity, while gold means good fortune and power.
On this day, the house is cleaned in preparation for guests and a big feast is prepared in celebration.
One popular food to eat during this time is dumplings.
“The whole family gets together to make that,” says Thompson. “In Northern China, they eat that on New Year’s Eve.”
On New Year’s Day, families will go around to different households to visit their relatives and wish them a happy new year. Red envelopes are also exchanged during this time.
The holiday itself has evolved over the years and habits like giving cards has become a norm.
“In olden China, we had cards, but it wasn’t so popular,” says Thompson. “But now, everybody is sending cards.”
Wal-Mart Canada has gone a step further, and since last year, the compnay has introduced Chinese ornaments, posters, paper cut-outs, lanterns and even plush toys for the holiday.
The top sellers of those were the lanterns, says Karin Campbell, the manager of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart Canada.
This year, they’ve also expanded the number of stores that carry these from 20 to 36, says Campbell.
From her customer information, she also says that they’ve found many non-Asian families have been purchasing these items as well.
As for other cultures celebrating Chinese New Year too, some people don’t seem to mind.
“We’re happy to share everything with a different culture just to let people know the Chinese culture,” says Kevin Fan, the office manager at the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural Centre.