Like a lot of other people, I grew up knowing it as Chinese New Year. This is when I’d anxiously await the lucky red envelopes from my relatives and the fun festivities in and around Chinatown.
I have since learned that it is more appropriate to refer to this occasion as Lunar New Year, because it is not only celebrated by ethnic Chinese. It is celebrated by many different peoples throughout Southeast Asia, as well as around the world. They can be just as superstitious as “my people.” (Remember not to wash your hair!)
Yesterday, I went on over to one of the largest malls in North America to see what they were doing for Lunar New Year. The indoor skating rink had been transformed into a small marketplace and stage, featuring Chinese curios and demonstrations of various cultural arts. Aside from a small sign, there was no obvious mention that we were welcoming the Year of the Ox.
Despite being in the middle of a mall, they actually charged admission. It cost two dollars per person, but proceeds were going to charity. Passing off my twoonie, I went inside to find booths selling handicrafts, cultural clothing, and… real estate. There was even a booth for Fido cell phones. I don’t think this was a good move on the part of the organizers and they should have restricted the exhibitors to those who sold more relevant products. What do car air fresheners have to do with Chinese New Year? It’s like going to St. Patrick’s Day festivities to eat sushi.
Thankfully, there were performances throughout the day that made the event a little more worthwhile. Embedded below are a couple of videos: one with traditional music and another with the lion dance. No lettuce was harmed in the production of these videos.