Lunar New Year: Creating Our Own Traditions

Posted by Amber Ho & filed under Pop Culture.


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Lunar New Year, popularly known as Chinese New Year, takes place on Feb. 8 2016, the first day of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Here at Schema, we like to remind everyone that Lunar New Year is not exclusively celebrated by those of Chinese ethnicity. It’s an inclusive event, celebrated around the world in many countries and by many ethnicities. Participants in Lunar New Year may be Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, Vietnamese, or entirely non-Asian.

Feb. 8 is the beginning of a 15-day celebration and kicks off the Year of the Monkey (1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, and 2004). The Monkey is intelligent, witty, inventive, playful, and good at problem-solving. My favourite Monkeys are Bryan Cranston, Lucy Liu, Ryan Gosling, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Edmund Ho (hi Dad!). If you’re a Rat, Dragon, or Monkey, this year will be unstable, dynamic, yet amazing. For Goats, Rabbits, and Oxen, you will see improvements in all areas of life. Roosters and Horses will encounter exciting challenges, with a favourable year overall. And it could be a difficult year for Tigers, Snakes, Boars, and Dogs, so stay focused for good results. 

I expect the Year of the Monkey will be big for my family; my Dad will turn 60 and four of the grandchildren (hopefully, including me) will graduate from post-secondary schools and enter the real world. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the exciting challenges the new year will bring.

The way my family celebrates Lunar New Year is probably much less traditional than most. Neither my parents nor I have been to Hong Kong or China; my mom was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and my dad and paternal grandfather were born in Vancouver. When I became aware of the typical Chinese New Year traditions in elementary school, I felt guilty that I wasn’t “Chinese enough” and thought is it bad that my family doesn’t do most of this? I typically receive red pockets and wish my relatives, “Gong Hey Fat Choy,” but we never completely clean our house or hang up lanterns. The big event for my family is a dinner where the grandparents can see all the grandchildren together.

To me, Lunar New Year is about connecting with your family and celebrating your roots. My family owned and worked in small grocery stores in Vancouver, so with deep roots here, our celebration is less focused on traditional rituals. Instead, familial rituals include: my Scottish uncle eating the majority of the lobster, my dad wearing the same red sweater he does every year, and my youngest cousin getting served food first (I know this is totally contrary to the Chinese custom of elders eating first).

Whether you celebrate the holiday in ritual or in spirit, we wish you a happy Lunar New Year. Overall, this is the year to be courageous, to take risks, and to venture into new territory. So go forth, seize the day (and the year)!

About Amber Ho

Amber Ho
Amber is a Vancouver-born Chinese Canadian who aspires to confront issues of identity and ethnicity. She is currently interning at Schema while completing her English degree at the University of British Columbia.

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