Toronto’s Lunar New Year is ‘such an important celebration’

Feb 14, 2024 | Culture, Headlines, Life

By Krishna Bhagnathsingh, Delroy Davidson

Dragons roamed the streets of downtown Toronto this past weekend, marking the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Dragon.

Both the Chinatown Centre and the Dragon City Mall in Toronto’s Chinatown on Spadina Avenue held festivities on Feb. 10 and Feb. 11 to celebrate the arrival of the Wood Dragon.

This dragon ushers confidence, resilience, prosperity, abundance and good fortune.

Andy Wong, a member of the production team and emcee for the show, said the Lunar New Year celebration is also meaningful in that it welcomes spring.

“Spring means hope, livelihood, growth and everything [born], so it’s energetic,” Wong said.

“Although it’s in the cold winter, we can see warm weather coming up, so that’s the good wishes and good thinking about the future of everyone,” he said. “Everyone makes good wishes during this time of year, and we’re all looking for it.”

Wong said a “very good atmosphere” enveloped the festival, with many people enjoying the stage performances.

“It’s a great time for us,” he said.

Andy Wong holding a sign.

Andy Wong holding a piece of paper, in which the first character means “dragon”. The second character means “horse” and the last two characters mean high spirit and great energy, which all combine to wish people to be as energetic and healthy as a dragon and a horse. Wong served as the emcee for the Lunar New Year events at both Chinatown Centre and Dragon City Mall.

Wong has been the emcee at concerts and parties for a few years, but it’s the first time he has been to Chinatown Centre to host the event.

“I feel very good about that,” Wong said.

Ausma Malik, the deputy mayor of Toronto and councillor for Spadina-Fort York, said she is excited to be at the celebration for the second time.

“This is such an incredible celebration of the history of the community, the oldest Chinatown that we have in the city of Toronto,” Malik said. “It’s such an important celebration of the stories and the journey that have brought us here now.”

“We know that there have been many challenges in our downtown to ensure that people can live and work and be part of the community, that they have a connection to and where they want to be,” Malik said.

A red dragon posing during the dragon dance.

A red dragon at Dragon City Mall in Chinatown. Dragon dances were included in this Lunar New Year celebration in Chinatown. Photo credit: Delroy Davidson

She said this celebration also welcomes residents and neighbours, including visitors, who support the community through local businesses and restaurants, as well as vibrancy and energy in the heart of the city.

Malik said the city is conducting a Chinatown planning study to help keep that vibrancy alive.

“That means we are looking at the future of Chinatown, how to make sure that what makes this community amazing in terms of making it [green], livable, accessible, is maintained and strengthened,” she said.

Malik said the study will determine what changes are needed “over the next year, five years, 10 years, over a generation” to ensure it remains an area where people belong and have a strong future.

She said she invites people to join in-person opportunities and take part in the surveys regarding this planning study.

More information is available on the City of Toronto’s website for the Chinatown planning study Chinatown Tomorrow.

Mundi Batzorig.

Mundi Batzorig, posing for a photo at the Dragon City Mall during the Lunar New Year event. Batzorig is a volunteer and team leader for this Lunar New Year celebration.

Mundi Batzorig, a volunteer assistant and team leader for the event, said this time of year is meaningful to her.

“Getting together with family and friends, just having fun and having a nice time,” Batzorig said.

She said there were more events and performers in other years, but she finds the draws and the dragon dance exciting.

“We have been working for five or six months on this project so that we can, along with the volunteers, learn how to do everything and get everything intact,” Batzorig said.