Handing over red envelopes, visiting family and a traditional lion dance are some of the many traditions of the Chinese New Year, which this year falls on Feb. 14, the same day as Valentine’s Day.
The Gracious Light Christian Centre is organizing a special family day on Saturday around the theme of a “Family Got Talent” show. Children and adults can take part at the Chinese Christian Church of Ottawa on 116 Empress Ave., from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The centre is also organizing events for children, such as games, face painting and crafts. Participants can sign up for these events at www.graciouslight.org.
The Chinatown BIA is holding a traditional lion dance on Monday on Somerset Street West between Bay Street and Preston Street. According to Chinese tradition it will bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits.
“The event draws a lot of people every year. It’s a vibrant community,” says Grace Xin, executive director of the Chinatown BIA.
Chinese New Year is the most important holiday of the year for the Chinese community.
“It is to China like Christmas to the West,” says Zhang Licong, from the cultural section of the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa. “We pay a lot of attention to the new year.”
The 15 days of celebration are a perfect time for people to get together. “Everyone is looking forward to something wonderful,” says Xin. “It’s busy, noisy and tasty.”
Canadians love the Chinese New Year as well, according to Licong. “It gives them an extra reason to celebrate something.”
Traditionally, the festival begins on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th day. This year is called the year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese Lunar calendar.
On Feb. 18, the BIA is organizing a Chinese New Year Banquet. The evening, consisting of a 10-course dinner and entertainment, is a way to celebrate Chinese heritage and culture. It is possible to sign up for the banquet at www.ottawachinatown.ca.