Chinese – and friends – celebrate New Year today

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In some ways the Chinese New Year is more similar to Christmas than it is to the Western New Year.

Jill Tan is thousands of miles from the place where she was born, but is looking forward to celebrating the Chinese New Year today with some of her new friends at the YMCA. She and Wendy Hughes, right, were busy for a celebration that will be held tonight at the Pictou County YMCA. See story page 3. ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS

Jill Tan, who grew up in China before moving to Pictou County two and a half years ago, said it’s a time when family comes home and people visit each other. Envelopes with money inside are given to children and plenty of food is devoured.

This year she’s enjoying getting the chance to share some of her culture with her new Canadian friends as the YMCA of Pictou County and Multicultural Association of Pictou County host a lunar New Year celebration at the Pictou County Wellness Centre at 6 p.m.

This year is the Year of the Horse. There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, which rotate each year.

Wendy Hughes, leader of the YMCA Immigrant Services program, said they try to celebrate as much of other cultures for immigrants who live here. Being so far away from their families at special occasions can be hard, she said. Celebrating also gives people in Pictou County a chance to learn more about traditions they might not know. She said there are about a half-dozen Chinese families living in Pictou County.

At this celebration there will be little gift bags for kids with chocolate money inside and a horse printed on the outside.

“We have a Chinese family that is cooking the traditional foods they would have during their New Year celebrations – dumplings and finger foods.”

They’ll also have fortune cookies, charts so people can find out what zodiac animal their birthday falls under and some Chinese games. This will be followed by a family swim from 7 to 8 p.m.

Organizations: YMCA, Multicultural Association, Pictou County Wellness Centre

Geographic location: Pictou County, China

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