After last month’s article on Canada’s diverse holiday celebrations, we asked you to share your holiday celebrations with us and you delivered!
Chinese New Year
“I come from China and the biggest celebration during the winter holiday season will be the Chinese New Year,” said Christine Song, CAMSC’s event and sponsorship coordinator. “Chinese New Year is the most important festival in Chinese culture as it symbolizes the reunion of family.”
While Chinese people around the world will celebrate Chinese New Year in various ways, Christine looks forward to getting together with her family to enjoy delicious food and watch fireworks. “It’s also a tradition that you don’t sleep on Chinese New Year’s Eve,” she shares, “Usually people will play all kinds of games like poke or mah-jong throughout the night.”
“One of very interesting tradition for Chinese New Year,” Christine says, “is we will eat dumpling on New Year’s Day at 12 am. There will be a few special filling dumpling that are made of sugar, or we will put a coin inside. Whoever eats the special filling dumpling will get good luck for the coming year.” If you would like to experience Chinese New Year celebrations and your city is lucky enough to have its own China Town, that’s a good place to experience the festive atmosphere. You may also be able to find smaller fairs held by local communities that can include performances, vendors, and even midway attractions.
Angie Saltman, the co-owner and president of Saltmedia, an Indigenous & Jewish-owned digital marketing firm in northern Alberta, has a busy season coming up involving Hanukkah, Christmas, and Winter Solstice celebrations. Angie loves celebrating Hanukkah with her five-year-old daughter. “We sing a blessing in Hebrew every night while lighting the candles.”
“This holiday is meant to celebrate the miracle of light where the lamp oil that was supposed to last one day, lasted for eight days,” said Olga Anoshkin, who works in the Chief Procurement Office at TELUS. Her favourite part of the holiday is getting together each evening to light the menorah and eat sufganiyot (or traditional jelly doughnuts) while the kids get excited about the gelt (or money/gifts) that they get each night.
Every synagogue organizes its communities on each night of Hanukah to light the menorah and partake in various festivities that include eating, singing, and playing dreidel games. If you’d like to experience these celebrations, Olga suggests you find the nearest synagogue visit to observe or, if you’d prefer a more public celebration and are in Toronto or the GTA, there is also an annual menorah lightning at Toronto’s Mel Lastman Square.
If you’d like to engage in your own private celebration, Angie recommends you get a kosher menorah and candles and learn to sing the blessing properly. “There’s no reason you can’t or shouldn’t. Hanukkah is for everyone. Make some latkes and try playing a dreidel game.” She adds that you can learn more about Hanukkah’s origin by learning about the Maccabean revolt of the 2nd century.
We also received a message from Rivet Construction who decided to forgo traditional Christmas style gifts for clients. Instead, they chose to send out Winter Solstice boxes containing seven items that spoke to different facets of the yearly celebration. The box contained a yule log to represent renewal and provide fuel for a fire in the new year, tea to recognize a time of warmth and healing, sparklers to represent a celebration of light, and beeswax fire starters to honour that celebration. They also made beautiful decorations with conifers, berries, sticks, pinecones, and dried fruit to represent nature, provided small pieces of paper to burn as a symbol of release, and gave a sign to put in a place of reflection.
From all of us at CAMSC, thank you for sharing your traditions with us. May the season bring you warmth and joy that carries through to 2023.