Markham Declares February as Chinese Heritage Month!

In 2024, the City of Markham officially declared February as Chinese Heritage Month, recognizing the significant contributions and heritage of the Chinese community to the city's cultural, economic, and social landscape. This declaration provides a critical opportunity for community members to deepen their understanding of Chinese traditions, scholarship, history, resilience and current experiences of the Chinese Community in Markham.

This February onward, Chinese Heritage Month underscores the city's commitment to fostering inclusion, appreciation, and unity among all its residents and beyond.

February was chosen as an ideal time for this celebration as it coincides with Lunar New Year, the most significant holiday for Chinese Communities all over the world, well as other culturally significant events for the Chinese community. Lunar New Year is also celebrated in various Asian countries, including Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia. 

Lunar New Year signifies the arrival of spring and the start of a new year in the lunisolar calendar. Families gather for this fifteen-day celebration, engaging in various traditions such as cleaning the homes for a fresh start, sharing feasts with loved ones, and adults, married couples, and elders gifting red envelopes filled with money to children. The tradition holds that the money and red envelopes are believed to ward off evil spirits from the children keeping them healthy, and giving them a long life.

2024 is Year of the Dragon! The dragon is one of the most popular mythical creatures in Chinese culture known for their status, wisdom, confidence, luck, and success. Learn more about the dragon Zodiac sign as well as Lunar New Year Exhibits currently running at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Curious which Zodiac sign you are, and what it says about you? Check out this fun page to learn more!

Looking for local Lunar New Year events and programs to celebrate this February?

Join Markham Public Library’s Upcoming Programs:

  • Mandarin Read and Fest - Lunar New Year Celebration, Saturday February 10th from 10:30am-12:00pm at Milliken Mills Library. Families of all ages and backgrounds are invited to explore the beauty of Chinese books, short stories, and poems in both the original language and through translation. Families will participate in festival-like hands-on activities, including crafts and games traditional to celebrations in China. Can’t make this session? Not to worry, Mandarin Read and Fest happens at MPL on a monthly basis. Register here!

  • Lunar New Year Elegant Gathering - Literati Calligraphy- Fei Chun and Tea Ceremony, February 17th from 10:30am-12:00pm at Unionville Library. There will be an Introduction of Literati Calligraphy history, philosophy, masterpieces in ancient dynasties, how Spring Couplets in Lunar New Year specially works for blessing and a New Year Tea Ceremony demonstration and presentation. Register here!

Join Other City of Markham Events:

  • Markham Museum’s first ever Lunar Nights: Year of the Dragon Festival is running from February 8th to the 25th and features over 250 vibrant lanterns across 20 different scenes. Families can skate on an outdoor rink, snowshoe, enjoy delicious foods and even stop by a moon-viewing station! 

It also includes three interactive exhibitions inside of the museum, including its latest, Standing in the Doorway: Lived Histories & Experiences of the Chinese Community. You’ll want to check this out to learn more about Chinese immigration to York Region and the resilience of the Chinese Canadian community despite facing racist policies, namely the Chinese Exclusion Act, and barriers such as stereotypes, labels, and other discriminatory policies. This innovative exhibit features artifacts, photographs, and personal narratives from members of York Region.

For more information about Lunar Nights: Year of the Dragon Festival, and to buy tickets, visit the Museum’s website: HERE!

  • Celebrate Lunar New Year at Varley Art Gallery of Markham! On February 10th & 11th from 10:00am-5:00pm there will be fun, free and engaging activities for families. No registration required! On February 17th & 18th, explore Lunarfest, a free community event packed with themed activities, games, and craft workshops. Can't make it to either? Varley Art Gallery has you covered. January 21st through March 3rd you can view the Lunar Lanterns in the Varley Courtyard which will welcome you into the promise of a bright new year. This year's Lunar Lanterns were a collaboration with Indigenous artists. Learn more here!

  • You might also want to stop by the York University Annual Chinese Culture Day 2024 on February 14th for opera performances and public lectures such as, “Domesticating Suzie: Cultural Politics in the Rewriting of The World of Suzie Wong” by Dr. Chris Song, assistant professor, University of Toronto. Find the event page HERE.

For further Lunar New Year inspiration, view our reading list below. Enjoy!

Happy Chinese New Year!

List created by MPLSTAFFPICKS

Celebrate the year of the Dragon with some wonderful books about Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year.

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