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Local 79 celebrates Lunar New Year

In 2012, Lunar New Year begins on Monday January 23rd and is the Year of the Water Dragon. The date changes according to the Lunar Calendar and is always determined by the second New Moon after the winter solstice. Each year is designated by one of the 12 Animals (Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Boar, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit) These twelve highly symbolic animals of the Chinese Zodiac were each adopted to represent a different lunar year, making reference to each year easier. The Year of the Water Dragon is a special occurrence in the Chinese Zodiac every sixty years.

Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality. Known for his boldness and short temper, the dragon has long been a representation of the Chinese Emperors. The Water Dragon, by contrast, exudes calm and empathy.

People born in the Year of the Dragon usually share certain characteristics: Innovative, enterprising, self-assured, brave, passionate. Some renowned people born in the Year of the Dragon include: Calista Flockhart, Colin Farrell, Courtney Cox, Courtney Love, Dinah Shore, Isabella Rossellini, Julia Ormond, Juliette Binoche, Reese Witherspoon, Roseanne Barr, Sandra Bullock, and Wynonna Judd.

Celebrated internationally in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Lunar New Year is considered to be a major holiday for the Chinese as well as ethnic groups such as the Mongolians, Koreans, the Miao (Chinese Hmong) and the Vietnamese, who were influenced by Chinese culture in terms of religious and philosophical worldview, language and culture in general. Lunar New Year is also the time when the largest human migration takes place when Chinese all around the world return home on Lunar New Year’s eve to have a reunion dinner with their family.

Other Asian communities that celebrate the Lunar New Year come from Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and Laos. There are also Chinese-speaking communities from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Malaysia and others.

Shooting off firecrackers on New Year’s Eve was the traditional way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year. On the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, was to be opened to allow the old year to go out.

Lunar New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the New Year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the New Year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade.

According to the 2006 Census, almost 1.2 million people of Asian origin live in Toronto. 486,325 of that group are of Chinese origin. With the large Chinese population in Toronto, events grow every year. One of the most accessible ways to celebrate is to attend the Dragon Dance Parade, which winds through the Dundas St. Chinatown area. Colourful dragons, over 20 ft. long and supported by 12 or more people, dance through the streets to bless the shops and restaurants. Drummers, whose constant beat drives away evil spirits, accompany the dragons. As the communities celebrating Lunar New Year have migrated to the suburban areas of Toronto, celebrations also take place in many of the suburban malls.

Local 79 would like to extend our best wishes to all our members celebrating Lunar New Year.

Gùng Héi Faat Chōi! Gōngxǐ Fācái!

 

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