The Canadian Ging Wu Lion Dance Team blesses Chinatown businesses with dance after the owner lights firecrackers. This is said to bring good fortune for the new year.  (Rahma Dalmar)

A fire-cracking Lunar New Year

By Rahma Dalmar

EDMONTON’S Chinese community celebrated the Chinese New Year Jan. 26 with dancing, firecrackers, and a large parade through Chinatown South, celebrating unique traditions and showering the community with good fortune.

Long time Edmonton resident, Cheryl Highfield, and her family are close friends with the owners of the Chan Fat Chinese Herbal store. They “come almost every year to celebrate the event” and support the owners by joining in the Lunar New Year festivities.

“This, like many other events in the city, teaches us about different cultures and I think it’s great,” Highfield said.

The event showcased Canadian Ging Wu Lion Dance team, which paraded around Chinatown giving blessings to business owners along 97th Street and 107th Avenue, and all that came to celebrate the new year.

“It’s important to them that all their friends come down and celebrate the holiday,” Highfield said. “I love to watch their store get blessed … It’s a huge thing for them.”

The owner of 97 Hot Pot caught lettuce from the lion dancer, symbolizing prosperity in the Chinese New Year celebration in Edmonton, Alta on Jan. 26, 2020.  (Rahma Dalmar)

In Chinese culture, the years are represented by 12 zodiac animals. These animals can help individuals determine what the year will bring to their personal lives. The year 2020 is the year of the rat: the first zodiac animal. The rat is associated with wealth and surplus.

May Cheung, a Hong Kong native who lives and works in Edmonton, was at the event for the first time.

“I love to see the fireworks; it’s been a long time since I have … I am really enjoying it.”

It was her “first chance to watch the event in Edmonton” since she moved  here a few years ago.

Cheung says she normally celebrates elaborate events back home in Hong Kong that are riddled with “dances, fireworks, music, lights and family feasts that last two-weeks.”

Lettuce was hung, throughout the parade, in front of businesses by the owners to be consumed by the lions. The fire crackers and drums accompanied them as they travelled from store to store.

A lion dancer receives lettuce to promote good fortune from a local business owner in Edmonton. (Rahma Dalmar)

“The lettuce symbolizes wealth and money for business people,” Cheung said. “It brings warm wishes and the following year will bring good fortune,”

The event showcased fireworks, dancing and joy, but Cheung says, to her, “Chinese New Year is about good health and peace for all.”

Firecrackers symbolize fire, which is said to ward off evil.  (Rahma Dalmar)

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