Celebrating Lunar New Year while studying in Canada

Written by Guest Blogger

By: Abram Yang

Lunar New Year, often known as Chinese New Year, is a significant celebration in Asian culture, marked by vibrant traditions and a strong sense of community. It spans about a month, with festivities beginning 15 days before Lunar New Year's Eve and continuing for another 15 days afterward. 

This period is rich with customs, from thorough home cleanings and decorating with red paper cuttings to ancestor veneration—a practice shared across Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean cultures, with the use of white-colour decorations in Korean cultures.

The celebration kicks off on Lunar New Year's Eve, where families gather for a sumptuous feast and the night sky is lit with fireworks signifying the ushering in of the new year. 

My favorite part of this holiday are the days that follow the new year which are filled with visits and the exchanges of red envelopes.

We celebrate with an array of traditional foods and public festivities, including lion and dragon dances and temple fairs culminating in the Lantern Festival which are characterized by sweet rice dumplings and the release of sky lanterns.

Image courtesy Unspash

Reflecting on my experiences in Canada, particularly at York, Lunar New Year has always been a time of joyous reunion and cultural immersion. 

I've engaged in various activities, such as attending the Spring Festival celebrations organized by the York Chinese Students Associations, watching performances and dining with classmates. 

Beyond the campus, the multicultural vibrancy of Toronto's Chinatown, with its lion and dragon dances, has never made me feel the absence of my cultural roots. 

Each year I've embraced the tradition of enjoying hot pot during the celebration, a practice I plan to continue. 

Shopping in Chinatown for snacks like sugar-coated haws adds to the festive atmosphere, with the only downside being the distance from family.

These experiences underscore the Lunar New Year's capacity to bring together people from diverse backgrounds to celebrate the richness of Asian cultures, fostering a genuine sense of community both within and beyond the university. 

Whether through participating in cultural and community activities or indulging in traditional foods and customs, Lunar New Year in Canada remains a deeply meaningful time for me, filled with joy, togetherness and cultural pride.