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Richmond resident, 87, keeping lost Chinese festival alive

A Richmond 87-year-old grandpa hopes more people to celebrate the lost Chinese festival by spending more time with their senior family members.
Howe Chan said the Double Ninth Festival made him feel nostalgic.

Howe Chan sometimes forgets things – after all, he is 87.

But he always remembers celebrating the Double Ninth Festival - a traditional Chinese holiday that focuses on honouring ancestors and respecting seniors. 

This year’s festival falls on Oct. 14 and people usually buy in roast pork, brown sugar rice cake and lotus flowers to honour their ancestors on that day. 

Unlike the Lunar New Year or Mid-Autumn Festival, which is widely recognized and celebrated by millions of overseas ethnic Chinese, the Double Ninth Festival isn’t considered worthy of a celebration among the local Chinese-speaking community, according to Chan. 

“However, this holiday has a special meaning to me, bringing back the bittersweet memories of my childhood,” said Chan, who immigrated to Canada in October 1949. 

“As part of the holiday tradition, four of my cousins and I used to carry dogwood up the mountain in my hometown in China. But after so many years passing by, only one of my cousins is still alive and he lives in the States while I am in Canada. So we can’t climb a mountain together right now. Plus, we are old,” smiled Chan. 

Chan is encouraging people to join him at the festival to honour the local senior community members by spending more time with them on that day. 

“We might move clumsily or talk slowly, but we still have many things to offer, such as old jokes,” laughed Chan. “Hopefully, these jokes won’t bore young people to death.”

Chan also shared well-translated Chinese poetry about the festival with the Richmond News. 

It reads: “All alone in a foreign land, I am twice as homesick on this day when my brothers carry dogwood up the mountain. Each of them a branch - and my branch missing.”

In Canada, we are all immigrants, added Chan. “And I believe some might resonate with this poetry.”