Asian New Year celebrations continue with P.E.I. flavours
The Year of the Ox begins on Friday
Some people on P.E.I. are getting ready to celebrate Asian New Year — making adjustments for the global pandemic while still keeping the traditions of the importance of family and food.
The Year of the Ox officially kicks off Friday, Feb. 12, starting the Spring Festival in the Chinese community. The Lunar New Year is also celebrated in Korean and Vietnamese communities at this time of year.
In past years, the P.E.I. Chinese Canadian Association would often hold a big gala event to celebrate. It was also common for some families to head back to China to celebrate.
This year, during the global pandemic, the group is instead planning a virtual gala.
It will be showcasing talents within the Island's Chinese community. Different people are volunteering videos of singing, dancing, music and more.
"We can stay here and join together with a few of our families," said association member Yifei Ban.
"Staying on the Island to feel the atmosphere of the Spring Festival."
Food is also a large part of the celebrations. At the Lucky Bakery in Stratford, staff are hard at work preparing desserts and traditional treats.
Owner Shawn Liang said the dinner is a time when many families will be looking for that home-cooked feel to their meals.
"Just for my wife and my children, stay home. We can make some delicious food," Liang said. "And have a video call from my family who live in China."
There has been an increase in orders at this time of year as others in the community are looking for special treats in time for their own New Year celebrations.
Liang said he hopes to soon be able to take his children to China to visit with their grandparents.
Celebrations across Asia
In Vietnam, the Lunar New Year celebrations are known as Tet.
Staff at Non La Vegetarian Cafe in Charlottetown are seeing more people coming in looking for traditional meals in advance.
"They know we have some special food for the New Year so they will come on the last few days,' manager Bao Tran said.
"We close the restaurant at eight o'clock but we have to prepare food for the next day for pick up so only leaving restaurant around nine or 10 o'clock — but very happy."
Tran said they made traditional dishes, like banh Tet (sticky rice and mung bean) and a mushroom terrine with their own vegetarian style.
Other dishes, like mut gung (candied ginger) are more for snacking when guests come over for a quick visit.
"You might have green tea and some ginger mut or cocunut mut," Tran said. "It is easy to make but different from this family and other family."
The combination of food and family is what makes this time of year so special for those who celebrate.
"Lunar New Year is one of the biggest holidays of the year," said Non La staff member Brian Le.
"We try to make it special with many dishes that we usually don't have in our normal meals."
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With files from Jesara Sinclair