The inside of Strathmore’s Imperial Dragon Family Restaurant was decorated with symbols of wealth, good fortune, happiness and prosperity on February 5, the day that marks Chinese New Year.
According to the zodiac, this year is the year of the pig.
The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival begins on the first of the Lunar Calendar. February 4 is New Year’s Eve.
Gilbert Fu, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, explained that some customers come in specifically, once a year right on Chinese New Year.
Tonight there will be over 100 people filling the restaurant.
Fu and his wife have run the restaurant in Strathmore for about four years.
“We have a lot of regular customers, which we enjoy not only from a standpoint of a customers- ownership relationship. It’s more like friendship,” said Fu.
“I come from Hong Kong. I came here 42 years ago,” he said.
Fu explained that people celebrate for about a week, or 10 days before the Chinese New Year and then carry on another 10 or 15 days after.
Just like the Christmas season, the Lunar Calendar’s New Year’s Eve is also very important.
“Families are gathering almost like Thanksgiving. They all try their best to come back. The day that is very meaningful for Chinese families because that’s supposed to be a get together to celebrate,” he said.
The Imperial Dragon Family Restaurant was filled with decorations like lanterns that spell out happiness, prosperity, longevity, good health and job security.
He explained that some in Chinese society come from farming backgrounds, so if you have good weather and good crops that means you are having a good year ahead of you.
In terms of farming he also explained the meaning of cat imagery. For farmers having cats can cut down on the number of mice on a farm, that would damage crops. So the cat, or ‘lucky cat’ imagery is also connected to Chinese agrarian society.
Fu also spoke of lucky money, which is typically found in red envelopes. Red being a colour to chase out evil and symbolize good luck. The envelops are given out mostly to younger people. They are a way of sharing the givers good fortune with another person.