By Nono Shen, Richmond News
A Richmondite is encouraging her neighbours, irrespective of their cultural heritage, to decorate their homes for the Lunar New Year.
Colourful Lion Dances, splashy performances and massive crowds doing the traditional “countdown” may not be happening this Lunar New Year thanks to the pandemic, but one Richmondite is still confident she can salvage the festive time by drawing on the support of neighbours.
In fact, Eileen Lao thinks Lunar New Year 2021 might be even more inclusive than in past years.
Lao was recently inspired by a New Westminster mother who encouraged her neighbours to celebrate the Lunar New Year by putting up decorations on their front doors and in their windows.
“This is such a brilliant idea. Throughout the past years, I have been doing similar things, such as hanging up red lanterns and couplets, representing happiness and hopeful thoughts for the coming year,” said Lao.
This year, Lao plans to encourage all her neighbours — regardless of whether or not they are Asian or traditionally celebrate Lunar New Year — to join her in creating colourful neighbourhoods.
“It might feel a bit lonely to do this all by yourself, but with more people to join you, the occasion becomes even more festive. It also helps to create the sense that, although we live apart, our hearts are together.”
Lunar New Year is one of the biggest international festivals around the world and is celebrated in various Asian countries. It’s seen as a time for families and loved ones to gather together to enjoy a big meal and honour ancestors.
In past years, Lao and her family have attended Lunar New Year events at the Richmond Public Library to learn about Lunar New Year traditions, such as what lucky food to eat on this special occasion.
Now she plans to share the history and folklore stories behind the Lunar New Year with her neighbours.
“Sometimes you don’t need grand dancing performances to help people from various cultural backgrounds understand each other’s cultures. Some decorations, a small kind gesture, a kind smile and good storytelling could facilitate understandings and create common ground between us,” said Lao.
Community activist Karina Reid also shared a post on the Richmond Come Together Facebook group encouraging Richmondites to consider decking out their houses with Lunar New Year decorations. Reid told the Richmond News she was overwhelmed with the positive feedback she has received so far.
“There will be lots of people doing the New Year decorations, for example, Richmond-Steveston MLA Kelly Greene said she is going to decorate her doors. It’s like at the beginning of the pandemic, we put hearts in our windows to honour our health-care heroes,” said Reid.