Lily Li has fond memories of celebrating Chinese New Year growing up. It was a time of delicious meals and visiting friends and family, all while being dressed up in new clothes just for the occasion. But most vivid in her memories were the tempting red envelopes she and other children received.
“When I was a little child, the excitement was you got pocket money in a red envelope because red means lucky in China,” explains Lily, who is Regional Manager for East Asia at Georgian. “In a small red envelope, you get some cash. That’s the only time, when I was young, that you received money from your elders. That was the only time you could be a little rich.”
Chinese New Year is called Spring Festival by the vast majority of Chinese people, but it’s also called Lunar New Year to include other Asian nations that celebrate such as Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and Singapore. It’s the largest festival in China and marks the beginning of its New Year, lasting for 15 days from the first day on the Lunar Calendar to the Lantern Festival, which is the 15th day of the first month.
“During this time, people visit their family and friends, cook special meals, watch the New Year’s Gala show, enjoy fireworks displays, give red envelopes and blessings,” says Li Wu, International Support Assistant, International Education and Development at Georgian. “For me, it will be the most relaxing time during the year, same as Christmas (in Canada), and it also means a new start to another chapter in my life.”
Lunar New Year’s Eve will take place on Friday, Jan. 24, and many people who celebrate will get together with friends and family to eat and drink until the countdown to the next year. On the first day of the Lunar calendar (New Year’s Day), they will dress in their new clothes to visit relatives and neighbours to wish them good luck in the next year. The Lantern Festival will take place the next day with many families making lanterns and keeping them outside their homes – much like Canadians do with Jack-0-lanterns on Halloween.
On Thursday, Jan. 23, the Segal International Centre is bringing the excitement of Lunar New Year to Georgian for the third year with its popular Lunar New Year Festival on the second level of the Student Services Centre (C building) at the Barrie Campus. Georgian students, faculty and staff can enjoy dance presentations, Tai Chi demonstrations, booths, face painting, cuisine and more.
“When we had the first one, most of the Canadian faculty and students were curious, like what’s going on here? Because there was dancing and face painting, calligraphy and lots of activities,” says Lily. “Everybody can get involved.”
This year is the Year of the Rat, according to the Chinese Zodiac Cycle. The rat ranks first on the zodiac and represents wisdom, intelligence, charm, being quick witted, ambitious and good at social activities. Every year, there is a different animal of the 12 represented on the zodiac cycle. Each animal represents past years. Find out what Chinese zodiac sign you were born under and learn what it means.