Lunar New Year celebrations begin in Toronto

As the Lunar New Year begins, Toronto residents in many communities are celebrating with family and food — kicking off the Year of the Pig.

Many different communities celebrating Year of the Pig

A dumpling party was held Tuesday in Tea Base, a new community space in the basement of Chinatown Centre. (CBC) (CBC)

As the Lunar New Year begins, Toronto residents in many communities are celebrating with family and food — kicking off the Year of the Pig.

"Overall it's supposed to be a good year for bringing in happiness and joy to people," said Kien Le, president of the Vietnamese Association of Toronto.

As in many cultures, family time and food is an important part of the Vietnamese New Year tradition, Le said.

For Jeanette Liu, the Lunar New Year is about spending time with family, and taking time to pause.

"For as long as I can remember, we've spent every single New Years with our family together," said Liu, who now runs her family's Chinatown restaurant.

Among their traditions are going to temple at midnight, she said, and having wonderful meals together.

Food is an important part of many Lunar New Year celebrations. At this meal, long noodles celebrate longevity and bok choi symbolizes good health, said Liu. (CBC)

"You've got to make sure your house is've cut your hair to ensure you're cutting off the bad luck for the rest of the year," she said. "It's a lot of traditions that you carry on."

At Le's New Year celebrations, he will be having simple foods like rice cakes and picked legumes, eating lots of sweets and playing family games, he said.

"[Food] brings in people, it brings in happiness," he said. "A full belly is a happy home." 

This is the Year of the Pig. (CBC)

There are many celebratory events taking place around the city.

Hannia Cheng and Ananda Gabo recently opened up Tea Base, a community space in the basement of Chinatown Centre. On Tuesday, they held a dumpling party.

They hope Asian Canadians can connect with their heritage in an inclusive space.

'When I was younger I really didn't want to be Chinese. I spent a long time rejecting a lot of my identity," Cheng said.

"I wish I had a space like Tea Base growing up, where Asians, artists, queers, seniors could just hang out and talk about these issues and explore their identities in that way."

With files from Ali Chiasson and Metro Morning and Here and Now