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Lunar New Year

In 2015, Lunar New Year begins on Thursday, February 19th and is the Year of the Sheep. It is sometimes referred to as the Year of the Ram or Goat, depending on one’s interpretation of the Chinese word. 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 (Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Boar). These twelve highly symbolic animals of the Chinese Zodiac were each adopted to represent a different lunar year, making reference to each year easier.

Legend has it that in ancient times, the Jade Emperor (the Emperor in Heaven according to folklore) asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and the Jade Emperor 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.

People born in the Year of the Sheep are reputed to be artistic, sensitive, sweet and charming. Shy by nature, Sheep never lack for protective friends and admirers. This is especially so among family members, to whom they are strongly attached. Typically surrounded by beautiful things, Sheep have a love of creature comforts and are almost always elegantly dressed. Conversely, Sheep people also have an innate affinity for natural settings and are also deeply content when getting their hands dirty messing about in the garden. Some renowned people born in the Year of the Sheep include Jane Austen, Boris Becker, Jamie Foxx, Franz Liszt, Michelangelo, Michael Owen, Mark Twain, Rudolph Valentino, Barbara Walters, Bruce Willis, Orville Wright, Pierre Trudeau, Julia Roberts, Zhang Ziyi, Chow Yun-Fat and the Empress Dowager Cixi.

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 Japan, 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. With the large Chinese population in Toronto, events grow every year. This year, the Toronto Chinatown Business Improvement Area (Chinatown BIA) will be celebrating the Year of the Sheep on February 21st and 22nd, 2015 with Traditional Chinese performances from Lion Dances, Martial Arts Demonstrations, Chinese Dance and Chinese Opera, and more. They will also be joined by the Toronto Zoo and their official Panda Mascot!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! 恭喜發財

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