3 ways to celebrate Asian New Year safely in Calgary

Friday marks the beginning of the Asian New Year. We talked to Terry Wong, executive director of the Chinatown Business Improvement Area, to find out how his community will be celebrating.

It’s the Year of the Ox, according to the Chinese zodiac calendar — a symbol of strength, perseverance and hard work. In Chinese culture, the beginning of the new year is also referred to as the Spring Festival and the celebration usually lasts for 15 days.

  • We want to know how you’re celebrating Asian New Year. Your decorations. Your food. Your outfits. How you’re celebrating, safely. Share your stories, photos and videos by emailing us at calgaryphotos@cbc.ca, share them on Facebook, on Twitter or tag @CBCCalgary on Instagram

Though celebrations will be different this year due to COVID-19 public health restrictions, there are still ways for you to take in some festivities: just be sure to follow public health guidelines including maintaining social distance and wearing masks. 

Here are three ways for you to ring in the Year of the Ox. 

An old banner can be seen hanging on a pole in Calgary’s Chinatown on Thursday, a day before Chinese New Year. As part of the new year’s festivities, three new banner designs will be rolled out. (Mike Symington/CBC)

1. Take a stroll down Chinatown.

While there won’t be any dragon dancing happening in Chinatown, Wong says there are still reasons for people to visit Chinatown during the Spring Festival. 

  • Chinatown Year of the Ox Ice Sculpture Showcase: Feb. 12-25
    As you stroll along Chinatown, you’ll see five Year of the Ox ice sculptures installed in different parts of the area. Each ice sculpture will be lit up in a different colour, representing an aspect of Chinese culture and diversity in Calgary.

  • New Chinatown lamppost banners: Starting Feb. 15
    The Chinatown Business Improvement Area held a banner contest earlier in the year and selected three new banner designs to replace the existing lamppost banners that were installed in 2018 to welcome the pandas to the Calgary Zoo. The designs range from peonies to koi fish to traditional Asian porcelain vases, all with different meanings, so be sure to check those out when you are in Chinatown. 

One of the main traditional Chinese New Year dishes is poon choy, a mixture of foods like shrimp, oysters and chicken considered to bring good luck for the year ahead. (Taste of Asia Group)

2. Try yummy food for good luck.

We can’t talk about Chinese New Year without talking about food. There are certain types of food that Chinese people believe can bring in good fortune and health, and many tend to make these dishes during the Spring Festival to welcome the new year. 

With the reopening, many restaurants in Chinatown are preparing Chinese New Year menus to serve their guests. From dumplings to long noodles to rice cakes, be sure to make the time to try out some of these new year’s dishes. 

If you want to learn how to wrap dumplings from home, our food columnist Julie Van Rosendaal has you covered. Get her recipe here

The entrance to the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre. (Calgary Chinatown Business Improvement Area)

3. Attend Chinese Cultural Centre’s Virtual Celebration.

For those who usually attend the Chinese Cultural Centre’s annual new year’s celebration, don’t worry, there will still be a party — just held virtually. There will be a one-hour celebration program for you to watch any time throughout Feb. 15. You can stream it on the Chinese Cultural Centre’s YouTube channel

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