This Friday February 12th, the Chinese New Year festival gets underway as we welcome the Year of the Ox. Celebrating the start of the new year in the traditional Chinese – Lunar Calendars. Beginning with the new moon, the Spring Festival starts with New Year’s Eve and concludes with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the new year.
Normally this most important season in the Chinese, and calendars of other Asian families is filled with traditions especially family reunions and visits, feasts, honouring ancestors, parades, and fireworks. This year’s pandemic protocols and restrictions are putting pause to the parades, dragon and lion dances and family gatherings.
Some of our local institutions are stepping in with ways for us to celebrate at home and online with educational videos, craft kits, and other virtual events.
Gateway Theatre: Gateway is using the occasion to celebrate one of the oldest puppetry traditions in the world, Chinese shadow puppetry! With its origins in the Han Dynasty, shadow puppetry remains one of the most enchanting if precarious forms of Chinese folk art, Gateway Theatre is helping to preserve this unique art form through their Chinese Shadow Puppetry Workshops, lead by artist Annie Katsura Rollins, starting February 15th.
Museum of Vancouver: MOV at Vanier Park and its Chinatown location are showing A Seat at the Table a collaborative exhibition exploring historical and contemporary stories of Chinese Canadians in BC and their struggles for belonging. In conjunction with A Seat at the Table, this Friday, Shadow Buffet @MOV Vanier Park opens, continuing the shadow these by inviting audiences to participate in a new interactive installation by creating their own shadow cut-outs.Book your visit to the museum now.
Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden: Vancouver’s iconic Chinese scholar’s garden may be temporarily closed to visitors but that is not stopping it from maintaining its place as in providing education and culture to its community. Education and storytelling has moved online; learn the story of the Chinese Zodiac, the Story of Nian, on YouTube, take part in virtual events like a Qigong Class, art talks and poetry readings. Order one of the Garden’s craft kits so you and your family can create your own New Year decorations for the holiday. Visit vancouverchinesegarden.com for details of their Chinese New Year programs.
BC Sports Hall of Fame: Paddles Up! The Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival Exhibit at BC Sports Hall of Fame opens on Friday, February 12th coinciding with Chinese New Year. The brand new exhibit explores the Dragon Boat Festival’s history since the sport’s arrival at Expo 86. Discover unique artifacts, including two full-sized dragon boats, hear stories from athletes of all backgrounds, and learn about the festival’s cultural heritage. Book your visit at bcsportshall.com in advance.
Restaurants: While it won’t be the big banquets usually associated with the new year, thankfully restaurants are open so you can order take out or dine-in with your family and enjoy the traditional foods of new year.