Alright. I’ve been terrible at keeping up on this blog. In the past 6 months a lot has happened that has kept me away. I got a full-time job, but more importantly, my yen yen’s health deteriorated. Unfortunately, she became very ill over the Christmas holidays with pneumonia and passed away in January at the age of 95, which brought on a whole other amazing experience of learning about the rights and rituals in Chinese culture, this time around death. I really wanted to document all the cultural things we did around my yenyen’s death to share, but I simply didn’t have the time or extra pair of hands to be doing much photographing. Though it may seem morbid to some people, these are traditions (like cooking and holiday celebrations) that are important in our culture. Also, I found the Chinese style funeral to be more interesting, engaging, meaningful and … dare I say… fun? Learning about traditions around death is also very important as we approach a time when our parents/grandparents approach ripe old ages and we all want to ensure that their last wishes are fulfilled. This is a much larger topic for discussion that I’ll leave for a future post as it is unlucky to be talking about death around Chinese New Year!
Regardless of how life is going, I can always count on the annual Chinatown Parade to get me motivated and inspired to blog and connect with people again about learning the traditions of our elders. The Chinatown parade has become one of my favourite events of the year. This year, 50,000 Vancouverites spent their Sunday afternoon welcoming the Year of the Snake, and like last year, I walked with my fellow Hoy Ping Benevolent Association members. I’m always so proud of all the youth-based Athletic Clubs which somehow remain strong in every Chinese benevolent association. The youth train all year round to perform the lion dance, hoisting giant lion heads and crouching low to the ground. At the Chinatown Parade, I’m always impressed with how great they are at entertaining the crowd, especially the kids and elders who stretch their arms out for a chance to stroke the lion for good luck. Here are some pics of the parade from where I was ….
Following the 2.5 hour parade, attendees crowded the restaurants of Chinatown. Needless to say, Newtown Bakery, a cornerstone of Chinatown was packed full of people waiting to get their steamed buns!
Once people finished filling up on steamed buns and congee, the second round of festivities began. Many of the lions were lured back out by the lettuce hanging above the doorways of businesses in Chinatown and in return the lions dance to bring good fortune to the business, while firecrackers, drums, cymbals and gongs could be heard loudly throughout the neighbourhood to help chase away evil spirits. Again, these impressive performances drew big crowds and lots of camera flashes.
There were many other festivities happening in Chinatown that I didn’t get to either because it was too crowded or because of time, most notably being the Sun Yet San Garden. Nonetheless, there is still plenty of time to catch a glimpse of the giant living (literally!) snake sculpture in the Garden’s pond until the end of April.
On Chinese New Year Day my sister and I also went to visit the International Buddhist Temple in Steveston which was also a great experience, but unfortunately, I am approaching my bedtime so I will have to leave that for my next post! I hope you enjoyed my pictures from the Chinatown Parade! 🙂