6 Things to Know About Lunar New Year

In 2021, the Lunar New Year and its corresponding multicultural celebrations start on February 12th.

Poon Choi. Photograph by iStock/AsiaVision.

In 2021, the Lunar New Year and its corresponding multicultural celebrations start on February 12th. If you’re new to the lunisolar calendar, celebrating the Lunar New Year can be a sensory overload, but Calgary’s multicultural communities are a well of knowledge to draw from if you need guidance on what to eat and how to enjoy the celebrations. Here are some basic things to know.


2021 is the Year of the Ox

In the Chinese zodiac, 2021 is the year of the ox. People born under this sign are said to be hard-working and strong-willed.


It’s Also Year of the Buffalo

The Lunar New Year is given different names outside the Chinese zodiac. For example, if you celebrate Tết, the Vietnamese New Year, look forward to the year of the buffalo, a positive symbol of agriculture and farming for Vietnamese people.


Tibetan New Year is Known as Losar

If you celebrate Losar, the Tibetan New Year, then this year is the Dragon Wood year of 2148. Tibetans celebrate the first few days of Losar with family and friends, praying and cleaning their homes. Tibetan Trom in Eau Claire Market is where local Tibetans and Mongolians go to stock up on incense and other home goods for Losar.


Go out for Poon Choi

This hearty Chinese dish is a mix of various meats, vegetables and seafood. It’s often served during Lunar New Year at big events and dinners, but you’ll also find it at many restaurants in Chinatown.


The Traditional Dish of Tết Has Two Variations

When celebrating Tết, the customary dish is a Vietnamese sticky-rice and mung bean cake that comes in two versions: northern (bánh chưng) and southern (bánh Tét).


Snack on Khapse and Po Cha

During Losar, celebrants snack on a Tibetan version of biscuits and tea. Khapse is a deep-fried pastry twisted in a braid and sometimes covered in powdered sugar. It’s served with po cha, a hot tea made with butter, milk and salt. You can find po cha year-round at Tibet Kitchen in Kensington.

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This article appears in the January 2021 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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