Canada's most Asian city charms visitors with Year of the Snake festivities Richmond, BC, Canada (February 1, 2013) â Red and gold streamers, tasseled lanterns and paper-cut snake motifs are appearing in shop windows across Richmond, BC â home to Canada's largest per-capita population of Chinese descendants.
In 2013, Chinese New Year, also called the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, falls on Sunday, February 10 and is the largest celebration of the year for many cultures throughout Asia. Richmond plays host to one of the most extensive two-week Chinese New Year celebrations and offers visitors an authentic taste of traditional Lunar New Year festivities â minus the jetlag. Thousands will flock to Richmond's Golden Village - with its glitzy malls and acclaimed Chinese restaurants â to welcome the Year of the Snake with fireworks, well-wishing rituals, live music, new year countdown, Chinese flower and gift fairs, colourful lion and dragon dances and, of course, delicious authentic food. In fact, Richmond is famous for having the best Chinese food outside of China. Here are the top, lucky number 8, ways to celebrate Chinese New Year in Richmond: Eat your way to prosperity Food is central to Chinese New Year celebrations. It's believed that eating auspicious foods like whole fish and lettuce wraps will bring fortune and good luck. There are over 400 Asian eateries in Richmond to satiate cravings for traditional fare: from rich Peking duck, symbolizing togetherness and fidelity, to sweet sticky rice, representing a family's commitment to stick together throughout the year. For many families, the elaborate Chinese New Year's Eve feast is the most important meal of the year as it's an occasion for reunions and giving thanks. Award-winning Richmond restaurants like Fisherman's Terrace, Shanghai River, Jade Seafood and Su Hang offer special set menus for groups to enjoy sumptuous 10 to 12-course meals. To guarantee a table, it's recommended to make reservations at least one week in advance. Shop for lucky plum blossoms It's customary that during Chinese New Year every household should display blooming plants to symbolize rebirth and new growth. Visiting a traditional flower market is a must in the week leading up to New Year's Day, and there are no shortages of flower and gift fairs throughout Richmond. One of Richmond's most popular shopping destinations is Aberdeen Centre, the most Asian mall outside of Asia. Its Chinese New Year Flower & Gift Fair runs from February 6 to 11, offering shoppers plenty oftime to stock up on gifts of good omen. Wandering through the many merchandise stalls visitors will spot sweet oranges, tangerines, colourful flowers, exotic plants and a variety of decorations and gift items like sparkling jadeware and bead bracelets. Hoping 2013 will be a lucky year? Be sure to seek out plum blossoms or sunflowers, both symbolizing luckiness. Awaken your inner Buddha To increase blessings and happiness in the coming year, one should immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of Richmond's exhilarating International Buddhist Temple during one of theTemple's most exciting times of the year. Modeled after the Forbidden City in Beijing, it is the second largest Buddhist temple in North America and each year draws a quarter of a million visitors. Year round, the Temple welcomes worshipers and visitors of all faiths and beliefs to join in prayer and meditation sessions. In addition to special prayer ceremonies on New Year's Eve, the Temple will feature special Chinese New Year festivities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on February 6 to 10, including traditional vegetarian snacks in the Taste of Zen cafĂ©, a Flower & Gift Fair, Chinese calligraphy and more. Items purchased at the site may bring the buyer a little extra luck, with all proceeds benefitting the Temple. Meet Gods and DragonsThey're called âhong baoâ in Mandarin or âlei seeâ in Cantonese â literally âred envelopeâ, these popular packets are stuffed with money (should be of even numbers) and handed out as wishes of good fortune in the coming year. The God of Fortune will be handing out red envelopes throughout Richmond, including during the New Years Day celebrations on February 10 at Yaohan Centre at 10:00 a.m., Aberdeen Centre at 11:00 a.m., and Richmond Centre mall at 12:00 p.m. However, the real attraction on these days is the majestic dragon or lion dances which are not only dramatic displays of athleticism, but are believed to evict evil spirits. 5. Devour dumplingsDumplings are another food rich in symbolism; shaped like ancient Chinese money representing wealth and prosperity, dumplings are one of the most important foods during the New Year festivities. One of the best ways to try a tasty variety of dumplings is at a traditional dim sum meal. With a population that is 45 per cent Chinese, Richmond knows how to dim sum like no other city in North America with delectable bites like âhargao' (shrimp dumplings) and âchar siubao' (steamed pork buns) along with a myriad of other dishes served on small plates or out of steaming baskets. Book a table at acclaimed Sea Harbour Seafood or Sun Sui Wah and indulge in this tasty tradition. Decorate with red and gold Red and gold are the dominant colors of Chinese New Year decorations, with gold signaling prosperity and red indicating life also while scaring away evil spirits. Look out for festive banners, bright-red lanterns, and red paper-cut snake motifs (paper cutting is an ancient Chinese folk art) for sale throughout the Golden Village, including at Richmond's three Hong Kong-style malls: Parker Place, Yaohan Centre and Aberdeen Centre. It is tradition to decorate doors and windows with red paper cuts indicating themes such as happiness, wealth and longevity. Aberdeen Centre is also home to the latest designer fashions from Honk Kong, Tokyo and Taipei and Chinese New Year is a great excuse to shop, as it is customary to have at least one new item of red clothing and a pair of shoes to celebrate good new beginnings for the upcoming year. Stay up lateâŠ for your parents' sake Similar to the Western New Year's tradition of celebrating at midnight, the Chinese word âshou suiâ means to stay awake throughout the night after the reunion dinner to welcome the new year. According to Chinese beliefs, children who âshou suiâ will increase the longevity of the parents. Fortunately, in Richmond there area myriad of late night hot spots and a great place to start is Alexandra Road, Richmond's âWai Sek Kaiâ or âFood Street,â with 200 Asian eateries packed into three short city blocks. According to Chinese lore, if there is a family member who is born in the Year of the Snake, no one will go without food â this is certainly true on Alexandra Road, where there is everything from trendy Hong Kong-style cafĂ©s to all-you-can-eat hot pot. Next, rush over to nearby Aberdeen Centre for the official New Year countdown or the International Buddhist Temple (both open until after midnight on February 9) to join the thousands partaking in New Year's Eve prayer celebrations. Seek sweet treats for a sweet yearA New Years celebration wouldn't be complete without sweet treats, which represent a rich life. It's custom for Chinese families to prepare sticky sweets to bribe Zao Shen, the Kitchen God, to deliver a favourable report on their family to the Jade Emperor in the Heavenly Palace. A hugely popular sweet treat in Richmond is sticky rice cake.This Chinese New Year delight symbolizes abundance and reunion. Other sugary favourites among locals include pineapple buns (so named for the golden baked topping that resembles the surface of a pineapple) and cocktail buns (filled with coconut). Both are freshly baked throughout the day at bakeries all over the city. Some well-known purveyors of these magical sweets are Lido Restaurant and the Kam Doand Pine House bakeries. Fora complete listing of Richmond, BC's Chinese New Year festivities, visit www.tourismrichmond.com/events About Tourism Richmond Tourism Richmond is a non-profit, membership driven destination marketing organization (DMO). The primary mandate of Tourism Richmond is to enhance awareness about the destination through salesand marketing initiatives and by providing excellent visitor and member services. Ultimately, Tourism Richmond's goal is to increase economic activity related to tourism for the City of Richmond and all stakeholders. Tourism Richmond is British Columbia's 4th largest DMO. Media contact: Michelle Dunn Director of Communications Tourism Richmond Direct: 604-821-5481 Cell: 778-822-5481 Email: email@example.com www.tourismrichmond.com