Downtown Toronto goes vivid as Lunar New Year is coming close.
Son Ha Tran
Lunar New Year this year ushers in the Year of the Dog.
Beginning on Friday, countries including China, Vietnam, Japan, and Korea, will celebrate what is considered the most meaningful traditional event, when people offer others blessings and hope for health and luck, according to China Highlights.
“In China, Lunar New Year is like Christmas in Western cultures,” said University of Toronto Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Wendy Chow.
“We have a big celebration in China,” she said. “In our culture, this is the most significant holiday in a year.”
Streets and houses are decorated mostly in two colours, red and yellow, where red represents the happiness and prosperity while yellow is considered the most beautiful and prestigious colour.
In many countries’ cultures, it is believed that Lunar New Year is the time for family members to gather around, talk about the past year, explode firecrackers and have the last dinner of the year in joyfulness and togetherness.
But not everyone celebrates the traditional celebration due to many reasons, and being far away from their families is one of them.
“I don’t celebrate it (Lunar New Year) anymore, because I live alone,” said Jina Kang, a sales executive in downtown Toronto.
“I don’t have any family members here.” Kang said.
According to Publicholidays.co.kr, in South Koreans celebrate Lunar New Year as a public holiday called “Seollal” in their language. To Koreans, the primary purposes of Lunar New Year is to pay respects to their ancestors and family reunion.
“Oh, there’s a lot of food, a lot of preparations,” Kang said of her experience when she was still in Korea. “We also do the red envelope which we give money to our family in envelopes.”
Seollal brings the family back together after marriage, school, and work drift them apart from each others. They give their families, relatives and friends gifts with the blessing for new year and also hope for themselves.
“I hope I can stay healthy, because health is important as you get older,” said Jihye Park, a store manager in downtown Toronto.
China and Vietnam share many cultural traditions and both have Lunar New Year as their most significant holiday of a year. While in China, people call it “Spring Festival,” Vietnamese call it “Tet.”
Quynh Tran, a dental assistant in North York tells, has many fond memories of Tet.
“We have so many things to do in Tet, it’s like a week of happiness and relaxation in Vietnam,” she said.
“People are busy with decorating, shopping and we all visit our families and relatives,” Tran said.
This year, the main festival will be celebrated in two locations in Toronto, Dragon City Mall (280 Spadina Ave.) and Chinatown Centre (222 Spadina Ave.) on Feb. 17 and Feb. 18. According to the Chinatownbia.com both locations will have Lion Dance performances, Kung Fu performances and traditional Chinese performances.
The Chinatown Business Improvement Area anticipates about 15,000 visitors will attend the two-day event in downtown Toronto.