Nfld. & Labrador

Year of the Pig brings prosperity, as Lunar New Year celebrated

It's the Lunar New Year, "pretty much like Christmas."

It's the Chinese equivalent of Christmas, but without Santa, says Xingpei Li

Tzu Hau Hsu, left, and Simon Tam brought a bowl of oranges for their interview. In Chinese culture, oranges are often a symbol of luck, Hsu says, and therefore given as gifts. (Paula Gale/CBC)

It's the Lunar New Year, and the Chinese community in Newfoundland and Labrador is celebrating what should be a prosperous Year of the Pig.

In the Chinese zodiac calendar, the Year of the Pig is supposed to be a good year to make money and invest.

"A pig is a symbol in China of intelligence and also, maybe because of their size, it's also a symbol of prosperity," said Simon Tam, the newly elected president of the Chinese Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

This year is the Year of the Pig in the Chinese lunar calendar and is supposed to represent abundance, diligence and generosity. (Bullit Marquez/The Associated Press)

Tzu Hau Hsu was born in the Year of the Pig herself, so while she's a little bit biased, she said people born in the Year of the Pig have plenty of perks.

"Folks who are born in the Year of the Pig tend to be gentle, sociable folks who are honest and straightforward," she told CBC's St. John's Morning Show.

"They're comfortable in life, they work hard, they can achieve great success, but if not, you're generally speaking, you'll coast along pretty well. But don't tell my parents I said that."

'I remember when I was young my mom told us not to sweep the floor, because you'll be sweeping away your luck,' Simon Tam says. (Arms Bumanlag/CBC)

There are some downsides, too, such as getting a little too passionate about certain subjects. "So you start fights, and my brother can tell you that growing up, that was a forte I was very much good at."

But the Year of the Pig isn't particularly lucky for those born under the Chinese zodiac sign; instead, you may want to lie low and not commit to any big investments, she said.

Growing Chinese community in N.L.

While there are massive celebrations in China to ring in the new year, in St. John's, the local community is planning a big party for Saturday.

It will have dancing, performances and, of course food.

But if you're looking for a ticket, you're out of luck, Tam said; tickets sold out pretty quickly.

Dancers perform with a dragon head during the Lunar New Year parade in Vancouver. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

That could be because the Chinese community in the province, and in St. John's especially, has been steadily expanding since the 1890s, with people from difference provinces in China moving here.

"I have to say, I don't know exactly the size of the Chinese community here, but including students here it would be a few thousand, I would think," said Tam.

'It's pretty much like Christmas'

But in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the Chinese community is pretty small, meaning celebrations are often a small affair.

"Traditionally, it's pretty much like a family reunion, so everyone goes back home to stay with their family … basically a family festival," says Xingpei Li, who works with Them Days magazine.

"I have no plans. I mean, because here, there's no Chinese community."

Back home, he would go to his parents house and there would be big parties with family and friends.

Xingpei Li says his Lunar New Year celebrations will be a party of one, since he's actually working in Nain. (Submitted by Them Days Magazine)

"It's the biggest festival in China. It's pretty much like Christmas for you guys," he told CBC's Labrador Morning.

And the Lunar New Year is a favourite holiday for children because, traditionally, you're given cash by your older relatives.

"It's like here, kids love Christmas, because you get a Christmas gift from your family, and in China, you can also give gifts, but the tradition is to usually give cash … so that's why kids love it," he said.

And there's an added bonus: no naughty or nice list like Christmas.

"I think they hope you — that's what they tell you, be good, you could get more money next year," laughed Li, "but, eh, we don't have Santa so you don't have to be good."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show and Labrador Morning

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