Goodbye rat, hello ox: Yk celebrates first lantern festival

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Yellowknifers gathered in Sombe K’e Civic Plaza Friday evening to welcome the year of the ox and say farewell to the year of the rat. 

City Hall was rife with red lanterns, bundled residents, and high spirits for the first official Yellowknife Lantern Festival hosted by the Yellowknife Chinese Association (YKCA). 

The Association was only officially formed in October 2020. “We’re a newborn baby,” YKCA vice-president Xiaoyi Yan told the crowd. She said that every year, the Chinese community in Yellowknife celebrates the festival with the community at large, “and this year is no exception, only bigger and better,” she said, pointing to the yet-to-be-lit 72 lanterns. 

Hanging beside the lanterns are 50 riddle cards which, when solved, attendees could trade in for personal lanterns and other such prizes. 

Yellowknife Chinese Association vice-president, Xiaoyi Yan, holds up the lantern Mayor Rebecca Alty won from correctly solving the first riddle of the night. Natalie Pressman/NNSL Photo.

Mayor Rebecca Alty, with the help of audience participants, solved the first riddle of the evening. She told the crowd that she was born in the year of the pig, but that she’s told the year of the ox means a good working year ahead, which she said, is good news for all of Yellowknife. 

Over the next three weeks, the YKCA will be hosting a series of cultural workshops like Mandaring conversation and calligraphy, a traditional glutinous rice ball cooking showcase and the art and culture of tea sipping.  

While Yan told the crowd that events seem to be booked up, cancellations are always possible for new spots to free up.

The Yellowknife Chinese Association hosted for the first time this year, the Yellowknife Lantern Festival. As of Friday evening, we say hello to the year of the ox. Natalie Pressman/NNSL photo

“This is a multicultural community,” YKCA president Frank Fu said. “No matter where you come from, no matter what your beliefs are.”

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“We hope through our efforts that Chinese culture can be better integrated into our community, and that YKCA can have more contributions to develop in Yellowknife.” 

Anyone interested, is welcome to join the new Association, Fu said, wish all a happy new year.

Seventy-two Chinese lanterns will continue to adorn Somba K’e Civic Plaza until March 6. Yellowknifers came out Friday evening to watch the lanterns light up and participate in the riddles for Chinese New Year. Natalie Pressman/NNSL Photo

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