In ancient traditions, snakes generally symbolize many, and often, contradicting attributes, representing both good and evil, from fertility and rebirth to poison and vengefulness.
However, in the Chinese culture, this zodiac sign is one of fast-movement and extreme intelligence, indicating a year of unpredictability and excitement.
To welcome the Year of the Snake, the Richmond Chinese Community Society hosts two events in the coming weeks for the 15-day celebration of the Lunar New Year.
A lion dance kicks off the celebration at Richmond Centre this Sunday, Feb. 10, the first day of the New Year.
“It’s the first time in a while that New Year’s Day has landed on a weekend,” said RCCS executive director Henry Beh.
“We usually plan the celebration on a weekend close to the actual day, so hopefully this is a sign of good luck. I think it’ll cause more people to come out and celebrate too.”
The lion, which is supposed to chase away the evil spirits according to Chinese myth, will dance around the mall, inviting attendees to follow.
Adults also hand out red envelopes of money to younger kids.
“This is to bring them good luck and prosperity for the coming year,” said Beh.
The following weekend, the RCCS hosts a larger celebration at Lansdowne Centre on Feb. 16.
This event also includes a lion dance, as well as, an opening ceremony, cultural performances, exhibition booths and a Chinese craft fair.
But before either of these celebrations takes place, Beh, like most ringing in the New Year, will be celebrating New Year’s Eve with his family on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 9.
Traditionally, families enjoy a round table, hot pot dinner. Most dishes symbolize various attributes, such as fresh vegetables meaning good harvest.
The colour red, a sign of good luck, is often decorated around the house and worn out to New Year’s festivities the following day.
“Given Richmond’s population, I think the whole city will be celebrating the New Year this weekend,” said Beh.
The lion dance at Richmond Centre begins at 1 p.m., while the Lansdowne Centre celebrations the following week run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 604-270-7222.