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Lunar New Year in Canada

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

Is Lunar New Year a Public Holiday?

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

Chinese Lion Dancing for Lunar New Year celebrations.

©bigstockphoto.com/ Diane Robertson

What Do People Do?

Lunar 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 Lunar 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 Lunar New Year through various activities over the years. For example, Canada Post issued special stamps to welcome the Lunar New Year in previous times. The Royal Canadian Mint also marked Lunar New Year with a new series of coins in the past.

Public Life

Lunar 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 Lunar 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 But for many years after a ban on Chinese immigration was revoked in 1947, the province received only one-third of new Chinese immigrants.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 Lunar New Year are celebrated each year.

Symbols

Lunar 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 Lunar New Year is associated with an animal name for one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.

About Lunar New Year in Other Countries

Read more about Lunar New Year.

Lunar New Year Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2017SatJan 28Lunar New YearObservance
2018FriFeb 16Lunar New YearObservance
2019TueFeb 5Lunar New YearObservance
2020SatJan 25Lunar New YearObservance
2021FriFeb 12Lunar New YearObservance
2022TueFeb 1Lunar New YearObservance
2023SunJan 22Lunar New YearObservance
2024SatFeb 10Lunar New YearObservance
2025WedJan 29Lunar New YearObservance
2026TueFeb 17Lunar New YearObservance
2027SatFeb 6Lunar New YearObservance

While we diligently research and update our holiday dates, some of the information in the table above may be preliminary. If you find an error, please let us know.