Explore: Lunar new year, Victoria Tea Festival, Fred Penner

Greet your friends with a Gung Hay Fat Choy (Happy New Year) and head down to Chinatown on Sunday for a parade to celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Pig.

The lunar new year, which took place on Tuesday, is the most important holiday for the Chinese around the world.

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Under the Chinese zodiac, every year is characterized by one of 12 animals, which influences personality and destiny. Besides the pig, animals in the zodiak include the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, dog and rooster.

In Chinese culture, pigs, with their chubby faces, are a symbol of wealth. It’s believed that those born under the sign allow themselves to enjoy life.

They love entertainment and are a bit materialistic, but use that as motivation to work hard.

The pig is the twelfth animal of the zodiac.

Years of the pig include 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995 and 2007.

To celebrate the lunar new year, a few events are on tap:

• The Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in Victoria rings in the new year with a lion dance and parade in Canada’s oldest Chinatown on Sunday.

There will be a kung fu demonstration as well as other cultural performances.

The event is free to attend. Festivities start at noon on Sunday under the Gate of Harmonious Interest in the 500-block of Fisgard Street.

• The Nanaimo Chinese Cultural Society is hosting a Lunar New Year Dinner Gala, Saturday at the Beban Social Centre.

The event is an opportunity to watch local groups performing traditional Chinese dances and playing music with traditional instruments, a kung fu display, singing and storytelling.

Several local restaurants will prepare an Asian-style buffet.

Tickets are $28 to $48 for adults, $20 to $40 for children under 12 and free for children three and under with paid adult ticket.

The event starts at 4 with performances and 6 p.m. Saturday for dinner at the Beban Social Centre 2300 Bowen Rd., Nanaimo. For more information or tickets, go to porttheatre.com.

Head to Nootka Court for a cuppa and learn all about tea

Tea lovers are asked to bring their own teacup to the Victoria Tea Festival Revival, a grassroots farm-to-cup experience featuring teas from around the world, Sunday at Nootka Court.

The event, presented by the International Tea Appreciation Society, features many teas sourced from their farms of origin in Japan, China, India, South Africa and others.

Activities at the festival include a tea market and a tea symposium.

“The festival is a grassroots event focused on tea-making, stories and connections,” said Jared Nyberg, representative of the society. “It’s a chance to connect with the earth and the families that produce teas year-to-year and season-to-season. It is also an opportunity to enjoy the fun creations of tea-inspired desserts and jellies by small-batch producers.”

The event features a talk by Kohei Takaki, from a multi-generational Japanese tea farm.

Festivalgoers can learn more about tea by joining the symposium. Topics include Farming Tea in Japan: A Conversation by a Japanese Tea Farmer, Sourcing Honeybush in the Mountains of South Africa and Milling Maccha Green Tea in Victoria.

Admission is $5 to $10. The event runs noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday inside Nootka Court, 633 Courtney St. Bring your own teacup or purchase a mini-mason jar for $2. For more information, go to Facebook.

Dip into Sephardic culture

Discover the history of Sephardic Turkish Jews, sample their foods and listen to their music at A Sephardic Celebración, Sunday at Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue.

This is the third presentation in the Exploring the Sephardic Legacy series.

Instructor Betsi Boeno will give a special presentation on how Turkish Jews, who emigrated from Spain to Turkish territories more than five centuries ago, brought with them their religious, social and culinary traditions.

Learn about Turkish Jewish lifestyles, traditions and a brief history of the country. During intermission, taste homemade dairy and vegetarian Sephardic foods.

After the break, the Kouskous duo will play exotic and soulful Sephardic music. The music of the Sephardi take you from a synagogue in Marrakesh to Istanbul and places in between.

Gary Cohen fronts Kouskous and provides vocals, guitar and lead percussion, while Amber Woods adds backup percussion on a variety of instruments and occasionally sings.

Admission is by donation ($10 suggested). The event runs 2:30 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Congregation Emanu-El Synagogue, 1461 Blanshard St.

For more information, go to congregationemanuel.ca or contact congregationemanuel.betsi@gmail.com.

Dinner raises funds for African farm

Kick up your heels and help feed the poor in South Africa at St. Joseph the Worker Parish’s fundraising Valentine Dinner and Barn Dance, Saturday at St. Joseph’s School.

Proceeds from the event will help fund the church’s Masithuthukisane organic farming project, help feed the poor and provide for St. Joseph’s School students’ needs.

The goal of the Masithuthukisane project in South Africa is to train and hire local unemployed women and men to work in the co-operative and help feed a population of 3,500 people.

Students at the school also learn how to plant, grow and harvest vegetables to help the St. Andrew’s Cathedral 9-10 Club kitchen.

Dancing will follow a dinner buffet, with an opportunity to participate in line dancing and live and raffle auctions as well as a 50/50 draw.

Attendees are encouraged to dress in denim, a plaid shirt or other western wear.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $8 for children ages four to 12 and free for children under 3. The event runs 6 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday in the gym of St. Joseph’s School, 757 Burnside Rd. West. Tickets on Eventbrite, by calling the parish office at 250-479-7413, email at sjtwoffice@shaw.ca or in person at the school.

For more information, go to stjosephtheworkerparish.com.

Sing along with Fred Penner

Legendary Canadian kids’ entertainer Fred Penner will be in Victoria on Sunday at the University of Victoria’s Farquhar Auditorium.

Penner, who received a Juno last year for Hear the Music, his 12th and latest children’s album, has been writing and performing children’s songs for four decades. Last year’s Juno was his fourth for children’s album of the year

Some of his biggest hits include The Cat Came Back and Sandwiches. His TV show, Fred Penner’s Place, aired on CBC from 1985 to 1997.

Tickets are $25 for general admission, $18 for students and alumni and $15 for children under 12. There is also a $70 family ticket, which includes two adults and two children, or a Golden Pass for $62 for one adult and three children.

The event starts at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the University of Victoria’s Farquhar Auditorium, 3800 Finnerty Rd.

For more information, go to uvic.ca/farquhar/events

Sip with the symphony in Sooke

Sit back and enjoy your coffee or specialty tea while being serenaded by the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra as it presents the popular Tea and Symphony event, Sunday at the Sooke Community Hall.

The orchestra, led by Sooke Philharmonic music director Yariv Aloni, will play a mix of light classical music, including works by Gounod, Haydn, Elgar and Tchaikovsky.

You can enjoy your favourite beverage while nibbling on finger sandwiches and desserts.

Seating is limited to 120 and the event is quite popular, so get your tickets early.

Tickets are $40. The event starts at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Sooke Community Hall, 2037 Shields Rd., Sooke. Tickets can be purchased online or in person at Shoppers Drug Mart in Sooke or Westshore, the Little Vienna Bakery, South Shore Gallery and the Royal Bay Bakery in Colwood. For more information, or for tickets, go to sookephil.ca.

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