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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Lunar New Year 2012 !!!

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon

Happy New Year to all my Asian students.  As we all know , Chinese New Year,  also known as the "Lunar New Year" or the "Spring Festival"-- falls on a different date each year, ranging from late January to mid-February. This year, The Year of the Dragon began on January 23rd and runs until the Lantern Festival on February 6th.   
The dragon is the most recognized image within the Chinese culture, and  symbolizes power, strength and good luck. In contrast to European beliefs, in which dragons are considered evil creatures, in Asia dragons are considered to have  "auspicious" powers. In fact, the dragon is believed to be the most powerful of the 12 Chinese Zodiac elements. 
Some famous dragons include: Joan of Arc, Sigmund Freud, John Lennon, Florence Nightingale and Mae West.

In China, the Dragon symbolizes the emperor or the male. It represents power, and leadership. The Chinese consider the Year of the Dragon to be the best year, as people under this sign are highly intelligent, lucky, healthy and full of confidence. They are extroverts and have strong will-power. They are not always easy to get along with and can become dangerous enemies. However, if you get on the right side, they can be supportive and helpful friends. The Chinese call the Dragons the guardians of wealth and power, certainly a prosperous sign to belong to.

Dragons are compatible with people born in the Year of the Monkey, or Year of the Rat.  Apparently Dragons make good priests, artists and politicians. 

The New Year, or Spring Festival is an occasion for family members to come together from all over the world, and welcome the year ahead with a variety of traditional food, customs, rituals and cultural activities. In China, Hong Kong,. Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Viet Nam and many other Asian countries, the celebrations all began with a bang yesterday.  

Click on the following link for a slide show of Chinese New Year Celebrations in different parts of the world. Chinese New Years In Pictures  

Unfortunately, although millions of Asians from all over the world do return to their home country to celebrate with their families, millions of others can't do this because of work, school, and family obligations in the country they are living in.

This does not mean that Asians living in other parts of the world don't celebrate the New Year. Far from it. Canada has a significant Asian population, with major cities like Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto featuring bustling Chinatowns. 

But it is not only Asians who celebrate. Canadians, Vancouverites in particular, are a very multicultural bunch of people. We like to participate in other cultures'  festivities. We have even begun incorporating elements of China, Japan, Korea and many other countries into our own lives.  We call it fusion - blending more than one culture to create an entirely new one. 
 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Celebration
Fusion in Vancouver 

Here's a little example of what I mean. One of the more memorable events in Vancouver is the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Dinner on January 22nd.  This "culture bending event" celebrates Chinese Canadian and Scottish Canadian heritage and combines two holidays: Chinese New Year and Robbie urns Day, the 253rd birthday of Scottish national poet Robert Burns (born January 25, 1759).

To find out what  kind of  celebrations are taking place in some of the bigger Canadian cities  click on the links below .

Chinese New Year, Vancouver, British Columbia:

The biggest event in Vancouver is the Chinese New Year parade, but there are many other events in all parts of the Lower Mainland. 

Chinese New Year, Calgary, Alberta:

  • The Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre offers a 3-day celebration of Chinese New Year that culminates in a gala evening that includes the Dragon and Lions Dance.

Chinese New Year, Toronto, Ontario:

Chinese New Year, Montreal, Quebec:

Meanwhile, here is an interesting story comparing Chinese New Year in Vancouver and China. 

"After four years of living in Beijing, Herman Cheng has come to appreciate the way his family celebrated Chinese New Year's while he was growing up in Vancouver."  read rest of story North and South Traditions Differ with Canadian Traditions Closer to the South

For more information on Lunar New Year click on the following links:

Chinese Fortune Calendar
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the 15 days of Chinese New Year  

Let me know how you are celebrating

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