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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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Gung Hay Fat Choy! Celebrating the Chinese New Year in SW Washington

Gung Hay Fat Choy! We wish you prosperity! This is a greeting for Chinese New Year. This year, the 14-day holiday begins on Sunday, February 14.

Lion Dance at the Chinese New Year Celebration in Vancouver

Lion Dance at the Chinese New Year Celebration in Vancouver

In 2004, husband Gary and I had the great, good fortune of celebrating Chinese New Year, The Year of the Monkey, in Hong Kong. A post-SARS tourist recruitment deal with VIP seats at the Chinese New Year parade, fireworks, day tours and other enticements lured us to this fascinating city. Upon our arrival, we joined the shopping throngs in the flower market of Kowloon, where we bought yellow chrysanthemums (for longevity) for our hotel room and ahhhed over all the red decorations. Ever since, we have celebrated the Chinese New Year at home.

Last year, a friend and excellent chef made a multi-course Chinese dinner for 13 at our house to celebrate the New Year. This year, we attended the Vancouver Chinese New Year celebration sponsored by the Friends of the Cascade Park and Vancouver Community Libraries. The event included an energetic lion dance by the Portland Lee’s Association Lion Dance Team and a giggle-inciting “Images of China” puppet show by Dragon Art Studio plus dance and singing groups – a lucky way to celebrate 2010, The Year of the Tiger, the year of both our births.

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The dates of the New Year differ between Asian countries. Vancouver’s Vietnamese community celebrated the holiday on January 30 with a large community event. Portland’s big celebration will be an eight-hour Chinese New Year Cultural Fair on February 14 at the Oregon Convention Center. There are many other events scheduled at the Lan Su Chinese Garden (formerly the Portland Classical Chinese Garden) at NW 3rd and Everett from February 14 through February 28.

It’s time to plan your own celebration. Here are six ideas for celebrating the Chinese New Year:

1. Call your favorite Chinese restaurant and ask if they are offering any special foods or menus for the Chinese New Year. If not, go any way and order a multi-course banquet. Chinese families often eat Buddha’s Delight, fish and dumplings to kickoff the holiday. Mandarin oranges are popular, too.

2. Plan your own feast at home. In Vancouver, the International Market (3216 E. Fourth Plain Blvd) should have the ingredients you need.

3. Visit some import stores for new year’s decorations. These aren’t easy to find in SW Washington. I hate to send you across the river but…great places for decorations are the import stores across the street from the Lan Su Chinese Garden and the amazing Fubonn Shopping Center, where you will also find foods from all over the Asian world.

4. Pick up some red, lucky money envelopes (hong bao) (available in Vancouver at the International Market mentioned above) for children and unmarried family or friends and distribute them with money in an even amount. ($8 would be especially lucky because 8 is a lucky number in Chinese culture.)

5. Decorate with fresh flowers. Chrysanthemums (longevity), narcissus (prosperity) and plum blossoms (luck) are three options. Bamboo plants are good year-round choices, too.

6. Visit your relatives. This is the time of year that Chinese people around the world travel home to make “new-year visits” to relatives and friends. Visit YOUR family! Wear red and take them some mandarin oranges! Have a great time and don’t forget to tell them Gung Hay Fat Choy!

For more information about the history and traditions of the Chinese New Year, visit

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1 Sue Anderson { 02.09.10 at 10:48 am }

Great article, Katlin. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since you and Gary were in China!

2 Maureen Chan-Hefflin { 02.10.10 at 10:37 pm }

Katlin and Gary, I hope you make it to the Portland Convention Center CNY celebration. It’s usually quite festive with many booths for food, books, decoration, jewellery, and all things Chinese! Xin Nian Kuai Le 新年快乐. Gong Xi Fa Chai 恭喜发财.

3 Laura Peterson { 04.20.11 at 8:00 pm }

I am the East county volunteer coordinator for a group of 25 Chinese female students coming to Vancouver the last two weeks of July. I am tasked with finding host families. I was hoping I could ask you to share my flyer with your contacts. They may come away from an experience like this with memories they will have for a lifetime. :) If you have any questions, please call me anytime. Thanks, L

4 Happy New Year! January 2012 Calendar — Southwest Washington ZEST { 01.10.12 at 4:19 pm }

[…] Lion Dance Team. Craft activities are available on Level 3 after the program. ZEST visited the 2010 Chinese New Year Celebration and had a great time! For more information, call […]

5 Celebrating National Pie Day in Southwest Washington — Southwest Washington ZEST { 01.22.12 at 1:51 pm }

[…] another story. For a 2010 ZEST post on this colorful holiday celebrated by billions, visit Gung Hay Fat Choy! addthis_url = […]

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