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Gung Hay Fat Choy: Not leaving luck up to chance

Chinese New Year Practice 1
Students from the Chinese Public School on Fisgard Street practise their Lion Dance in preparation for Chinese New Year’s celebrations.

Year of the rabbit rung in today

With Chinese New Year here, Charlayne Thornton-Joe already has a fresh list of New Year’s resolutions at the ready.

“I always joke, whatever resolutions I broke after Jan. 1, I can start over and make them again,” said the Victoria city councillor, who is also an active volunteer in Victoria’s Chinese community.

With Chinese New Year ringing in today (Feb. 3), she says there may be much to look forward to in the year of the rabbit.

“A lot of us are happy to be leaving the tiger year,” Thornton-Joe said.

Gone will be a fast-moving, dramatic and volatile year, replaced by a year of calm and peace – qualities associated with the rabbit symbol, one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac based on the lunar calendar.

“It’s about keeping the peace. It’s the calm after a stormy year,” Thornton-Joe said.

In China, the upcoming year is actually being heralded as that of the golden rabbit, a colour associated with wealth, prosperity and a large dose of luck.

Coupled with the rabbit’s serenity, this year “will be a time for you to catch your breath,” said Ying Sun, Mandarin language instructor at Camosun College.

For some of the 30,000 in the Greater Victoria Chinese community, they won’t be leaving their luck up to chance.

In addition to embracing lucky red and gold colours, it seems a long life, wealth and good fortune can also come from edible delights such as noodles and oranges, and fish served whole and eaten from head to tail.

“It means the good year will last from the beginning to the end of the year,” said Kileasa Wong, principal of the Chinese Public School.

Depending on how traditional and superstitious someone is, they may not want to use a broom or wash their hair on New Year’s Day for fear of sweeping or washing out their good luck.

For most, New Year’s is a time to gather with family, in addition to ringing in a new beginning.

And for Thornton-Joe that may include a fresh start by setting new personal goals.

“I get a second chance,” she said with a chuckle.

Mark your calendar

Chinese New Year events:

• Feb. 3-10: The Hotel Grand Pacific restaurant is serving up symbolic and auspicious foods in a special Chinese New Year menu.

• Feb. 5: Twenty-five performances from martial arts to traditional Chinese dancing will celebrate the lunar New Year at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 2121 Cedar Hill Cross Rd. on Saturday at 7 p.m. Free. Everyone welcome.

• Feb. 6: Annual lion dance, kung fu and tai chi demonstrations, traditional Chinese dancing, dragon performances and Chinese tea ceremonies on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. near the Gate of Harmonious Interest in the 500-block of Fisgard Street.

• Feb. 5-6: Heart and Hands Health Centre, located at 6-2020 Douglas St., will host a Chinese New Year open house, Saturday and Sunday. The weekend will feature $5 and $10 drop-in services, from yoga to massage.

• Feb. 20: The Chinese Culture Club of Victoria hosts a buffet Chinese dinner, performances and a DJ’d dance at 7 p.m. at the Red Lion Inn, 3366 Douglas St. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for children 12 and under, and are available by calling 250-882-8861 or 250-857-9288.