The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - CNY1 - More about Jen Sook­fong Lee at www.sook­ / @JenSook­fongLee.

Cana­di­ans across the coun­try are in­vited to join the mil­lions of peo­ple who cel­e­brate the be­gin­ning of the Year of the Dog on Fe­bru­ary 16, 2018, with a va­ri­ety of age-old tra­di­tions

IT MAKES SENSE TO START NEW BE­GIN­NINGS WITH SOME­THING YOU LOVE, so when Jen Sook­fong Lee wakes up on the morn­ing of the Chi­nese New Year, she and her son “eat a piece of candy to en­sure the com­ing year is sweet,” she says. “And we greet each other with Gung hay fat choy.”

In ex­chang­ing wishes for a pros­per­ous new year – Gung hay fat choy in Can­tonese and Gong xi fa cai in Man­darin – Lee joins the mil­lions of peo­ple around the world who ob­serve this im­por­tant cel­e­bra­tion, which is rooted in the lu­niso­lar cal­en­dar.

Lee, an ac­claimed Chi­nese-Cana­dian au­thor who re­cently pub­lished a non-fic­tion book for young adults ti­tled Chi­nese New Year, A

Cel­e­bra­tion for Every­one, be­lieves that it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber “that Chi­nese New Year is the cel­e­bra­tion Chi­nese im­mi­grants bring to al­most ev­ery coun­try in the world as a sym­bol of good will and in­clu­sion,” she says. “Every­one is al­ways in­vited to eat and have fun. It con­tin­ues to be the way Chi­nese peo­ple com­mu­ni­cate our cul­ture to the other com­mu­ni­ties we find our­selves liv­ing with.”

Cana­di­ans with Chi­nese an­ces­try num­ber more than 1.8 mil­lion. In Van­cou­ver, B.C., the mul­ti­cul­tural hub with the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of Chi­nese Cana­di­ans, one in five res­i­dents has Chi­nese roots. In this com­mu­nity, where Lee grew up and lives with her fam­ily, signs of Chi­nese cul­ture are abun­dant, and Chi­nese New Year cel­e­bra­tions in­clude the pop­u­lar Chi­na­town pa­rade, which re­turns this year for the 45th time. It at­tracts about 100,000 spec­ta­tors, who come to see 70-odd en­tries with 3,000 par­tic­i­pants rep­re­sent­ing a va­ri­ety of com­mu­nity and cul­tural groups, in­clud­ing the largest assem­bly of tra­di­tional lion dance teams in Canada.

All Cana­di­ans are wel­come to join Chi­nese New Year fes­tiv­i­ties, Lee says. “First of all, we get to cel­e­brate much more if we par­tic­i­pate in other cul­tural events. Se­condly, the reality is that di­ver­sity is what Canada has be­come, and cel­e­brat­ing the cul­tures that con­trib­ute to our so­cial fab­ric is cel­e­brat­ing what Canada is.”

Com­mu­ni­ties dif­fer in many ways, but at the core of ev­ery cul­ture are the de­sires for hap­pi­ness, health and free­dom, be­lieves Lee. “Ev­ery cul­tural tra­di­tion comes from one or more of those de­sires. And the deeper we un­der­stand others, the more we see that our core val­ues, as hu­mans, are re­ally the same.”

Laden with much symbolism and mean­ing, many Chi­nese New Year tra­di­tions aim to bring peo­ple – fam­i­lies, friends, com­mu­nity mem­bers – to­gether. For Lee (and for many others), “it’s all about the food,” she says. “My mother usu­ally had a huge break­fast ready for us by the time we woke up (fried noo­dles, soup, dumplings, oranges).”

Lee says this doesn’t hap­pen at her house since she’s not a morn­ing per­son, but she cher­ishes the tra­di­tional New Year’s fam­ily gath­er­ing. “I love the candy and dumplings, but the best part is the big mul­ti­course din­ner that my sis­ters and I all help to cook,” she says. “There is never any pos­si­bil­ity that we will fin­ish the huge amounts of food, but the act of sit­ting down and eat­ing the dishes that we have worked so hard to pre­pare is, on its own, a beau­ti­ful thing.”

Em­brac­ing dif­fer­ent cul­tures can en­rich lives and so­ci­ety, sug­gests Lee. “When we am­plify what makes our com­mu­ni­ties unique, this brings greater depth to our un­der­stand­ing of hu­man­ity and makes Canada as a coun­try a true global par­tic­i­pant.”

When we am­plify what makes our com­mu­ni­ties unique, this brings greater depth to our un­der­stand­ing of hu­man­ity and makes Canada as a coun­try a true global par­tic­i­pant.” Jen Sook­fong Lee is an an ac­claimed Chi­nese-Cana­dian au­thor


Among China’s cul­tural her­itage sites are the clas­si­cal gar­dens of Suzhou, Em­peror Qin’s terra-cotta war­riors and the Tem­ple of Heaven in Bei­jing’s Tiantan Park.

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