Gung Hay Fat Choy – it’s (almost) the Chinese New Year! Richmond’s biggest celebration is just a few days away, and I’ve been doing a ton of research — also known as “snacking a lot” — to get prepared.
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2015 is the Year of the Sheep, Goat, and Ram, as the Chinese character “yang” can be interpreted as all three. Due to a lack of hard and fast rules about which is best, you can pick your favourite animal of the three and go with that! Having once spent five weeks herding 80 goats on a farm, I am going to stick with sheep. They seem more cuddly and cooperative than the goats I dealt with, and are far less intimidating than the mighty ram.
There are a great many traditions associated with the Lunar New Year, and as with all big celebrations, many of them revolve around food. If you’re having guests over and need to prepare, or are new to all this and want to partake, I’d suggest heading to Aberdeen Centre.
Each year, Aberdeen is the epicentre of Richmond’s New Year festivities, and for the Year of the Sheep the party’s gotten bigger and better. Their annual indoor market is setup from the 13th to the 18th, and this year there are vendors located on the first, second, and third floors of the mall. They’re selling things like:
Every kind of red and gold souvenir you can think of! Red is good luck, by the way.
A big part of the market is made up of flower and plant vendors, whose products are not only beautiful to look at, but also convey meanings. Bamboo, for example, is a lucky plant, while mandarin plants offer both luck and wealth.
Upstairs, there’s a vendor selling gorgeous tins of tea, mainly of the oolong variety.
Oolong is semi-fermented, meaning it sits somewhere between black tea (which is fermented) and green tea (unfermented), and therefore retains positive qualities of both types.
It should be no surprise that the food at this market was the biggest draw for me.
There are traditional New Year’s goodies for sale, like crispy sweet egg rolls and deep-fried dumpling ‘cookies,’ as well as a huge variety of others.
Coconama had a stall setup to display their unbelievable truffles (remember how many times I visited them during 365 Days of Dining?)
and there were cookies, lemon raspberry Chinese New Year cakes, macarons, flavoured cotton candy (coconut cotton candy exists, people), handmade marshmallows,
chocolate made with unrefined sugars like monk fruit, and a treat that still blows my mind: dragon’s beard candy.
It’s not easy to find this stuff, so I highly recommend seeking out their stall. You can watch as they stretch the wispy, thread-like strands of dough into a goodie that looks like gauze.
If you head to Aberdeen on the 18th, you can ring in the New Year with all the liveliness of the market AND entertainment on the main stage. Events continue through to the 22nd, and you can find a full schedule of events here.
A happy, healthy, and fortune-filled new year to all!