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Year of the dragon: fun and fortune in the Lunar New Year

Dave and Duncan Chan performing a Lunar New Year lion dance
Watch for red to figure prominently as Lunar New Year arrives on February 10. In Chinese culture, red is associated with prosperity, luck, and happiness.

The Year of the Dragon starts February 10, but the prep starts now

On February 10, Lunar New Year arrives and the Spring Festival begins. We've rounded up a few ways to enjoy the Spring Festival and help ensure that the Year of the Dragon is your year.

Before it all begins, clean your home (and yourself)

Too early for spring cleaning? Not if you're celebrating Lunar New Year. At the top of the feng shui hit list are home cleaning chores you should do prior to February 10:

  • Opening all windows and doors for nine minutes (just turn down your home's heat while you're doing it)
  • Sweeping and cleaning the front door area, checking for squeaks in the door and, while you're at it, checking to see if your door's weather stripping needs an upgrade.
  • Decluttering your bedroom. Clutter, according to feng shui guidelines, erects barriers to the flow of energy in your home and creates heaviness.
  • Decorating with citrus fruits. They're believed to bring good luck and happiness.

At the start of Lunar New Year, don't wash your fortunes away

That means no washing clothes for the first few days, and no showers, at least for the first day. That's why the cleanup starts before the Lunar New Year.

Lion dancers performing for Lunar New Year
Lion dancers are a big part of Spring Festival parades.

Attend a parade or other New Year's event

In its 50th anniversary of the event, the Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival celebration – set for Sunday, February 11 – is expected to draw as many as 10,000. Check out these other parades and events in communities across B.C.

For the red envelope, get your crisp bills now

In the days leading up to Lunar New Year, there will be lineups at some banks as gift-givers exchange old bills for new, or take new bills out of the bank. The reason? A Lunar New Year tradition is to gift money to friends, family and acquaintances in small red envelopes, known as 紅包, hóngbāo. If you're planning to partake, here are a few best practices:

  • Go with the red envelope, as red carries great fortune. White envelopes, FYI, are sometimes given at funerals.
  • Try not to use old bills – the newer and crisper, the better.
  • Steer clear of amounts that add up to a '4' in the mix – no $4, $40, $400, etc. Why the superstition? In Mandarin, four is pronounced “si,” which sounds very similar to the word for death, “死” (si). Always give and receive envelopes with both hands.
  • Never open the envelope in the presence of the gift giver.

Learn more about the lucky red envelope in this Google Arts & Culture feature

Cook up something tasty with a small appliance

While you don't want to interrupt the flow of good energy, it's also a good idea to use it wisely. Here are a few go-to Lunar New Year recipes you can make with the likes of an Instant Pot (a pressure cooker) or an air fryer. Small appliances cook things quickly and can save up to 75% on energy costs compared to using your stove or oven.

年糕 (Nian gao)

This sweet, glutinous rice cake is a favourite year round, but is especially popular around New Year. This delicious treat can easily be whipped up in your Instant Pot, making it a quick way to save energy.

Instant Pot 年糕

蘿蔔糕 (Lo bak go)

This savoury radish cake is often enjoyed as a dim sum dish, and is a fan favourite during New Year's celebrations. Luckily, the steaming step can easily be done in your Instant Pot.

Instant Pot 蘿蔔糕

Bánh chung

Banh chung, a traditional rice cake made from sticky rice stuffed with beans, pork, and other ingredients, is often made by wrapping the rice in banana leaves, and steaming, sometimes for hours. Not only will you save energy by steaming in your Instant Pot, but you can cut down your cooking time significantly.

Instant Pot bánh chung

Thịt kho tàu

Made with pork belly and boiled eggs cooked in coconut water, Thit Kho is a deliciously tender and satisfying stew that is especially popular for New Year's celebrations. Instant Pot stews are always a hit, which is why making the switch to Instant Pot Thit Kho is an easy decision.

Instant Pot thịt kho tàu

春卷 (chūn juǎn)

Spring rolls (chūn juǎn) are one of the most well-known dishes in Chinese cuisine, and are most familiar in their crispy, deep-fried form. With limitless options for the filling, this dish is a great option for omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike. Put away the oil, and save on time and electricity with this air fryer 春卷 recipe.

Air fryer 春卷

Nisga'a Nation to celebrate Hoobiyee, which falls on March 1, 2024

Timed with the arrival of the first crescent moon in February or March, Hoobiyee is the Nisga'a Nation New Year celebration.

Depending on the position of the moon, the new year will be read by the Nisga'a in different ways:

  • If the crescent moon's edges point upward, it foretells an abundant year of salmon, oolichan, berries and other foods. It's based on the timing of the end of winter and the emergence of oolichan (eulachon), an oily fish – known as Saak – central to Nisga'a culture. It has been harvested and processed since before recorded time, mainly on the banks of Ḵ'alii-Aksim Lisims (Nass River) at Fishery Bay in northwestern B.C.
  • If a star is sitting in the centre of the crescent moon ("ii luu-t'aahl bil̓ist ahl ts'im hoobix"), it's also a sign of abundance for the Nisga'a.
  • A sideways Hobiyee moon without a star sitting in it can be seen as a harbinger of a poor year for resources.

Hoobiyee is celebrated in B.C.'s Nisga'a communities and also in Vancouver, where there is a significant Nisga'a population. Here's some more information about the event taking place at the PNE Forum.