Wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Anna Lee, 9, stands next to lion dancers during a Lunar New Year celebration at Dao Quang Temple on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Garland, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) South Korean family members bow to respect for their ancestor in North Korea, on the Lunar New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) An Indian Chinese lights joss sticks to place in a cauldron on the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple in Kolkata, India, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Bikas Das) Lion dancers prepare their costumes during a celebration of the Lunar New Year at a temple in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. The celebration marks the Year of the Ox in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati) People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus offer prayers outside the closed Yonghegong Lama Temple, usually crowded with worshippers, during the first day of the Lunar New Year in Beijing, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) Divers perform an underwater lion dance at the KLCC Aquaria during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) A woman wearing a protective mask prays at the Thean Hou Temple during first day of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. The movement control order (MCO) currently enforced across the country to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, has been extended to Feb. 18, effectively covering the Chinese New Year festival that falls on Feb. 12 this year. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) People wear face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus as they pray at a temple for the Chinese Lunar New Year, Year of the Ox, in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying) Yoon Kim, center, along with other volunteers from the Korean-American Association of New Jersey, pack bags to give away. Besides masks and hand sanitizer, the bags contain the ingredients for Dduk Guk, a rice cake soup that is traditionally eaten by Koreans to celebrate the new year. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Millions of people around the world are ringing in the Year of the Ox a bit differently this Lunar New Year.
With the backdrop of a global pandemic, festivities for the holiday are muted after China, Vietnam, Taiwan and other governments tightened travel curbs and urged the public to avoid big gatherings following renewed virus outbreaks.
Still, in other countries and cities – pending local restrictions – many could be found gathering on Feb. 12, dawning lucky red masks and burning incense and praying.
In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged that the typical celebrations and gatherings among friends and families, which usually last two weeks, will look much different this year. However, “the lessons we draw from the ox – an animal symbolizing hard work, perseverance, and honesty – will help us move forward during these difficult times,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put anti-Asian racism in the spotlight with police in some Canadian cities, such as Vancouer, reporting an uptick in reported hate crimes and confrontations.
“Together, let’s reaffirm our commitment to build a more inclusive Canada, celebrate the diversity that makes us strong, and continue to fight discrimination and hatred in all its forms,” Trudeau said.
In B.C., where Premier John Horgan has pledged to create anti-racism legislation, said that while he’ll miss the “vibrancy and excitement” that typically comes with the holiday, many will be taking part in online events, video chats with their families and decorating their homes.
“Kung Hei Fat Choi! Gong Xi Fa Cai! Saehae bok mani badeuseyo! Chúc mừng năm mới!”
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