Millions of people around the world are ringing in the Year of the Ox a bit differently this Lunar New Year.
With the backdrop of a global pandemic, festivities for the holiday are muted after China, Vietnam, Taiwan and other governments tightened travel curbs and urged the public to avoid big gatherings following renewed virus outbreaks.
Still, in other countries and cities – pending local restrictions – many could be found gathering on Feb. 12, dawning lucky red masks and burning incense and praying.
In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged that the typical celebrations and gatherings among friends and families, which usually last two weeks, will look much different this year. However, “the lessons we draw from the ox – an animal symbolizing hard work, perseverance, and honesty – will help us move forward during these difficult times,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put anti-Asian racism in the spotlight with police in some Canadian cities, such as Vancouer, reporting an uptick in reported hate crimes and confrontations.
“Together, let’s reaffirm our commitment to build a more inclusive Canada, celebrate the diversity that makes us strong, and continue to fight discrimination and hatred in all its forms,” Trudeau said.
In B.C., where Premier John Horgan has pledged to create anti-racism legislation, said that while he’ll miss the “vibrancy and excitement” that typically comes with the holiday, many will be taking part in online events, video chats with their families and decorating their homes.
“Kung Hei Fat Choi! Gong Xi Fa Cai! Saehae bok mani badeuseyo! Chúc mừng năm mới!”
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