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Chinese New Year in Canada

Many people in countries such as Canada celebrate Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. It marks the first day of the New Year in the Chinese calendar.

Is Chinese New Year a Public Holiday?

Chinese New Year is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Studio shot of red envelope with money and chinese lunar new year decoration

Chinese New Year celebrations often involve firecrackers and people giving money in red envelopes to others, particularly children.

©iStockphoto.com/Liang Zhang

What Do People Do?

Chinese New Year is a vibrant and festive occasion for many people in Canada. This event can last for many days and often includes various festivities such as street parades and festivals featuring dancing, traditional Chinese costumes, firework displays, food stalls, and arts and crafts.

Many Chinese Canadian families spend time together giving gifts, particularly red envelopes with money (Hong Bao, Ang Pao, or Lai See) that are normally given to children. Some Canadian organizations have also participated in Chinese New Year through various activities over the years. For example, Canada Post issued special stamps to welcome the Chinese New Year in previous times. The Royal Canadian Mint also marked Chinese New Year with a new series of coins in the past.

Public Life

Chinese New Year is not a nationwide public holiday in Canada. However, some Chinese businesses may be closed on the day or amend their business hours to take part in the Chinese New Year festivities. There may be heavy traffic and some streets may be closed in towns or cities where Chinese New Year celebrations are held.

Background

The Chinese community in Canada has a long history dating back to the 19th century. The Chinese moved to Canada for various reasons related to employment and opportunities associated with the Canada’s growth. All across Canada, starting in the 1890s, cities and larger towns began to develop their own Chinatown districts.

British Columbia was home to more than 60 percent of Canada's Chinese before World War II, according to sources such as Library and Archives Canada. But for many years after a ban on Chinese immigration was revoked in 1947, the province received only one-third of new Chinese immigrants. This meant that Chinese families were settling all across Canada. Canada is today seen as a multicultural country in which festivals such as Chinese New Year are celebrated each year.

Symbols

Chinese New Year has various symbols and traditions. For example, flowers are an important part of New Year decorations. Writings that refer to good luck are often seen in homes and business environments. They are usually written by brush on a diamond-shaped piece of red paper. Tangerines and oranges are also displayed in many homes and stores as a sign of luck and wealth.

Envelopes with money (Hong Bao, Ang Pao, or Lai See) often come in the color red, which symbolizes happiness, good luck, success and good fortune. These envelopes are mainly given as presents to children. Each Chinese New Year is associated with an animal name for one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.

About Chinese New Year in other countries

Read more about Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010SunFeb 14Chinese New YearObservance 
2011ThuFeb 3Chinese New YearObservance 
2012MonJan 23Chinese New YearObservance 
2013SunFeb 10Chinese New YearObservance 
2014FriJan 31Chinese New YearObservance 
2015ThuFeb 19Chinese New YearObservance 
2016MonFeb 8Chinese New YearObservance 
2017SatJan 28Chinese New YearObservance 
2018FriFeb 16Chinese New YearObservance 
2019TueFeb 5Chinese New YearObservance 
2020SatJan 25Chinese New YearObservance 

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