Starting today, Chinese around the world will be joyfully ringing in the Year of the Horse as Friday the 31st kicks off one of the most important Chinese traditional holidays.

   Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from the last day of the last month of the Chinese lunar calendar, to the Lantern Festival held on the 15th day of the first month. These fifteen days are usually marked by intensive house cleaning to make way for incoming luck, specialty meals and reunion dinners with family and friends, fireworks and gift giving.

Windows and doors are also beautifully decorated with red colored signs, paper-cuts and gold wordings that speak of “good fortune”, “happiness”, “prosperity”, and “longevity.” Other activities include lighting firecrackers and handing out ceremonial “lucky” money in bright red paper envelopes to children and young singles.

Montreal boasts one of the largest China towns of North America – the other three being in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. For those wishing to partake in New Year’s celebrations, there are numerous activities planned by local vendors and the Chinese community alike.

A short stroll down the streets of Chinatown located from De la Gauchetière Street, Saint Urbain Street and St. Lawrence Boulevard,  will give you a sensory treat with merchants prepping their store fronts with horse themed decorations and numerous passerby’s greeting each other and exchanging lucky red packets (lasi).  Treat yourself to a couple of sweet cakes,  steaming hot bao buns or try the popular, sugary dragon beard’s candy prepared right in front of your eyes!

The Montreal Chinese Association and the Montreal Lion Dance Club ( headed by Johnny Wong ), annually prepares a colorful parade in the heart of Chinatown.  This year’s edition takes place on Sunday the 2nd of February from noon to 4 pm and features folk music, waist drums and the fiery lion vs. dragon dance!  The parade starts at the central park garden and then culminates at the restaurant Crystal Palace.

As an extra treat,  6 amazing shows are coming to Place des Arts next month from February 15 to March 1st:  Featuring a Carnival, Peking opera, modern art exhibition, classical concert, a traditional fairytale for children and a modern dance , these unique and prestigious cultural shows reflect a contemporary look at Chinese artistic creations.

For more information please consult the main page of Place des Arts:

http://www.placedesarts.com/shows/spectacular-china.en.html — at Place des Arts.

“Kung Hei Fat Choy” everyone!