Celebrating the lunar New Year in Montréal
This article was updated on January 3, 2020.
January 1 has come and gone, and chances are, you’re still holding on to your New Year’s resolutions, but what if I told you you can you rewind with a do-over? Because here’s your chance! Kind of. Get ready to party all over again because we’re going to celebrate Chinese (lunar) New Year on January 25 and party like it’s 4718!
The lunar New Year (which occurs every year on the new moon of the first lunar month) is a very important time for the Chinese and Asian communities. This day is celebrated with different traditions, such as giving loved ones “lucky money” in red envelopes, cleaning one’s home signifying “getting rid of the old and welcoming the new,” as well as celebrating with other colourful festivities. One boisterous tradition is the lion and dragon dance. Acrobatic performers wear colourful costumes that resemble mythical creatures believed to scare away bad luck to bring good fortune. Be sure to check out some of the lion and dragon dance troupes (weekend of the 26th) as they parade through Montréal’s Chinatown, visiting every store, whose offerings of vegetable greens, fruits and “lucky envelopes” are fed to these creatures in exchange for the hopes of a prosperous year ahead.
Some of the other traditions that surround Chinese New Year are of the tasty kind. The Chinese are superstitious, and this is reflected in the foods that are served on New Year’s Day.
You may think the shapes of dumplings are arbitrary, but there is a meaning behind how these savory little delights are wrapped. Dumplings are made in the shape of gold and silver ingots and it’s said that the more dumplings you eat on New Year’s Day, the luckier you’ll be. So if you’re looking to load up on dumplings in the auspicious name of fortune, check out some of my favorite Montréal dumpling shops like Qing Hua, Restaurant Yi Pin Xiang, Mei Restaurant, Mai Xiang Yuan, Jiu Xiang Yuan and Harbin Dumpling. Also, check out some of the city’s best dim sum offerings if you’re feeling for more than just dumplings: Ruby Rouge, Imperial Restaurant, Tong Por and Chez Chine.
Another auspicious food eaten on New Year’s Day is fish. The pronunciation of fish in Chinese is a homonym for “abundance”, and this meal is considered to be lucky. Prepared in different ways, fish is always served with the head and tail on as it represents a “beginning and end.” Check out Restaurant ChinaTown Kim Fung, Keung Kee Restaurant, Dynastie and Restaurant Mon Nan as well as Nouveau Maison Foo Lam uptown, for some of the freshest seafood around - their live tanks can attest to the quality of food that they serve.
Noodles are also a favorite food eaten on New Year’s Day. Noodles should never be cut, the longer the better. Long noodles represent longevity and the long and prosperous year you’ll have. There is nothing better then fresh noodles hand-pulled right before your very eyes. Be sure to visit Nouilles de Lan Zhou, NUDO and Restaurant Noodle Factory, where you can pick the style of noodles for your meal.
May the year of the Rat bring you much health, wealth and happiness for a prosperous and fruitful new year! Gung Hei Fat Choy!
Jason Lee, blogger
Jason is a food eater and picture taker. As the blogger behind Shut Up and Eat, he covers everything food, from recipes to reviews. Jason has vowed that he will not stop until he has officially eaten his way across Montréal. It’s a big claim, and it’s one he’s making.