Red lanterns lit up on the second floor of Dragon City mall in Chinatown on Jan. 28, 2021. Decorations are set up to celebrate Chinese New Year. 
PHOTO BY: Sannah Chawdhry

Lunar New Year celebrations looked different for many families this year. But despite the pandemic, the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre continued last month with their annual Lantern Exhibit.

Tony Wong, president of the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre, said the Lantern Exhibit is an annual tradition that started in 1993.  This year, they were planning a larger event, but the omicron wave in January forced them to move to a slightly different outdoor festival.

A worldwide celebration

Chinese families in Calgary and around the globe reunite for the Lunar New Year.

It is the most important event, that even like 200 to 300 million people in China will travel back to their hometown.”

The New Year’s Eve dinner is the most important part of the celebrations, and if there is one dish that cannot be missing from the table, it’s fish. 

“We must have fish because the word fish sounds exactly the same as surplus,” Wong said. “So when you have fish, then you have surplus year after year in your family.”    

COVID changes not new

This is the third year in a row that the festivities have been scaled-back due to COVID. Last year, Calgary’s Chinese Cultural Centre joined with Chinese Cultural Centres across Canada from Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax last year in an online event. 

Before the pandemic, the cultural centre hosted a Chinese New Year market.

“We also would arrange to have dozens of live performances at the cultural centre such as martial arts, Lion Dance, dragon dance of various groups performing dances and musical performances,” Wong said.

Lit up fruit and animal lanterns displayed in front of the Chinese Cultural Centre on Jan. 28, 2022. PHOTO BY: Sannah Chawdhry

Year of the Tiger

According to the 12-year cycle of animals in the zodiac calendar, 2022 is the year of the water tiger. 

“The tiger is regarded as a king of the jungle and it is energetic, and it is full of power. So the people that were born in the Year of the Tiger are believed to be energetic people. They are very positive,” Wong said. 

Related

In the Chinese zodiac, the element of water signifies profound emotions and creativity. The last year of the water tiger was 1962.

Whether or not you believe in superstitions or celebrate, Lunar New Year is a symbol of new beginnings. 

“I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year,” said Wong. “All the prosperity and good fortune.” 

Lunar New Year took place on Feb. 1. The Lantern Exhibit ran from Jan. 28-30 and Feb. 5-6. You can see more photos of the event here.

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