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Celebrating the Year of the Pig in Chinatown

In 2019, the Lunar New Year falls on Tuesday, February 5, as we welcome the Year of the Pig and celebrate the coming of spring. The twelfth animal in the Chinese zodiac, the Pig loves the good things in life, and so quite appropriately represents success, wealth, and fortune.

There are many New Year (or Spring Festival) traditions in Chinese culture, ranging from domestic rituals to public festivities. Most of these involve food and family, while others are concerned with increasing such desirable factors as prosperity, luck, or longevity.

Here are just a few ways you can get ready for and celebrate the Year of the Pig in Vancouver’s Chinatown:

chinatown grocery store

Go for grocery

It’s a good idea to have fruit on hand at any time, but some, including mandarin oranges, persimmons, and kumquats, are considered especially lucky at New Year. Pay a visit to the recently opened Chang Sheng Supermarket and stock up on your fresh produce needs. If you’re doing the New Year cooking, you can pick up additional ingredients from one of Chinatown’s fishmongers or dried goods stores.

Stop and smell the peonies

Every year, City Garden Florist at Chinatown Plaza holds a Flower Fair (January 24-February 6) with seasonal and traditional plants for purchase, such as chrysanthemum, pussy willow branches, and lucky bamboo shoots. Not only is it pleasant to have fresh flowers in the home at New Year, but they also represent the rebirth and new growth associated with spring.

Fill the streets with joyful noise

The Spring Festival Parade in Chinatown is a mainstay of Chinese New Year celebrations in Vancouver. For this 46th iteration, over 3,000 participants are set to take part, representing various community and cultural groups. Put on your loudest red clothes and cheer them on! With Youth Collaborative for Chinatown bringing another edition of their ‘hot and noisy’ mahjong socials to the street the same weekend, the dreaded Nian monster is sure to stay away.

lion dance

Revel at Temple Fair

If you receive lucky red packets for the New Year, a great occasion to spread the wealth and celebrate with others is at a market or temple fair. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden holds an annual Temple Fair event, which this year will feature traditional activities, an exhibition from artist Paul Wong, and a number of local vendors and their wares. Entry is by donation.

Dine out

After all the shopping and celebrating, you’re bound to be hungry. Check out the neighbourhood’s array of eateries, including Jade Dynasty, Chinatown BBQ, and Rhinofish Noodle Bar, for a plethora of delicious options. Copious amounts of BBQ meats, dumplings, and tang yuan are traditionally consumed throughout the Spring Festival, with the biggest meal being the New Year’s Eve reunion dinner (年夜飯).

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