During the time that The Mascot and I were living in Vancouver, BC, we always got caught up in the excitement of Chinese New Year. To be honest, it was hard not to; with over 30% of Canada‘s Chinese population living in Vancouver and its surrounding cities, the cultural influence was everywhere. The time of year that this was most apparent was at Chinese, or Lunar, New Year. Every year around this time, the stores in our predominantly Asian neighborhood would be full of the traditional foods, decorations and gifts that make this annual celebration so vibrant and special.
One such offering that has always intrigued me are the “lucky” money packets, which are traditionally bestowed upon unmarried recipients to ensure wealth for the coming year. The envelopes, called “Ang Pow”, are always red in colour to symbolize prosperity and ward-off evil. A lovely and very unique example of Ang Pow are these by Qipao (above). Unlike most rectangular packets, these are in the shape of Cheongsam, the traditional fitted Chinese garments. And, it’s not just their eye-catching shape that makes these Ang Pow different; each one-of-a-kind envelope is upcycled from greeting cards that would otherwise be tossed away!
A slightly more traditional (but no less clever) version of Ang Pow are these DIY ones from Katwrite’s shop (above), featuring the image of this year’s Chinese Zodiac Symbol – the Tiger. Kat of Vancouver was inspired by traditional Chinese paper-cut art when she created these intricate cards to enclose your monetary gifts. A gift for the environment, too, they are available as a printable PDF to eliminate extra packaging. (Tip: go green and remember to print your cards on recycled or eco-friendly paper!)
Another DIY project perfect for Chinese New Year decorations is this stunning set of luminaries by Prudence Octavia. Each luminary is created by layering two unique, hand-cut designs over a heavy vellum sleeve. Don’t be scared-off by the apparent complexity of the project, though; all of the intricate work is done for you. The completed luminary sleeves are flat-packed and carefully wrapped for easy shipping from Hong Kong. Once you receive them, all that is left is to wrap them around a votive candle and fasten with the enclosed adhesive. It’s easier than learning to use chopsticks!
Like I was, Heidi of Burnaby is another British Columbian caught up in the excitement of Chinese New Year. After a recent wander through Vancouver’s colourful Chinatown, she returned home inspired by all of the unusual and exotic items that she saw. What came from that inspiration was this skein of hand-spun and hand-dyed yarn (above), created in honour of the upcoming celebrations. The beautifully varigated vegan yarn, which is available in the Quo Vadis Handspun shop, comes complete with a little Chinese coin for luck.
Finally, I would be remiss if I let you go without a little something sweet at the end of this week’s article. Fortunately, for all of us who ate more than our fair share of dim sum this morning (ahem), this treat won’t go straight to your waistline. Cleverly upcycled from lambswool sweaters and packaged in a hand-stamped “take-out” box, Anne Potter’s felted fortune cookies make a cute gift or decoration all year round. The “cookies” are available for purchase in Anne’s shop and can contain either an assortment of fortunes, or your own custom messages. Stuck for something to say? “Gung hay fat choi!” is the traditional Chinese New Year’s greeting, meaning “may you become prosperous”.