Winter Solstice 2006 Dong Zhi at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens
We went down to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens last night in Vancouver's Chinatown. Chinese Winter Solstice or Dong Zhi was being celebrated as part of the Secret Lantern Society's extensive programming that took part at Chinatown, Yaletown, Westend, Strathcona and Brittania Community Centre.
Chinese Winter Solstice is also a time when there are special foods and
activities, especially to be shared with family and friends.
It was my girlfriend's first time seeing the Chinese garden all lit up
with hand made lanterns and candles, and it was magically
beautiful. Even before we had walked into the garden, I bumped
into musician friends Qiu Xia He and Andre Thibault who regularly
perform at the Garden as Silk Road Music.
Ji Rong Huang performed erhu in the Scholar's Study, and Alcvin Ramos
performed shakahachi flute in the Hall of One Hundred Rivers. Click here for a virtual tour of the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens.
Because of rain, many of the paper lanterns were not hanging on the
trees, in the ritual of returning the fallen leaves of Autum, to their
original trees in new forms of lanterns. Many of these paper
lanterns feauting leaf designs were instead hung along the walkways of
My favorite lanterns are the floating ones designed like lotus
flowers. The gentle breeze pushed them around on the ponds, and
they looked gorgeous in the dark.
A floating lotus lantern lit by photo flash – photo Todd Wong
We soon bumped into my friend Meena Wong showing the garden to a friend
of hers visiting from Singapore. My first dragon boat mentor
James Yu was there with his mother. James is also restorer for
the gardens, making sure it is in good maintenance and running
order. He has taught me how to steer dragon boat as well as both
Tai Chi, and many stories about the Chinese garden and traditions.
Dragon Boat buddies Todd Wong and James Yu – photo Deb Martin
As we left the Gardens, we looked around in the Gardens giftshop,
and I found a lovely little amulet thingy with the Chinese character
for “Love” – which I bought as a gift for my girlfriend. We also
had some fun, doing water brush strokes on a “buddha board” where I
demonstrated my long lost skills of having taken a class in Chinese
brush painting back in 1980. It was also a big surprise to meet
the new Gardens giftshop manager Alexis who used to run the balloon
shop in Deman Place Mall. Alexis had attended my 2002 Gung Haggis
Fat Choy dinner when her good actor /voice coach friend Sonia
Baker co-hosted with me.
A real big surprise was bumping into former classmates from Grade 7 at
Laura Secord Elementary in Vancouver. While I have bumped into
Selina So over the past years through many Asian Canadian events, this
was the first time I had seen Leslie Ikeda since 1978 – and we both
fondly recounted that we had been in kindergarten together, as well as
grade 7 and grade 8 Math. Winter Solstice really is a time for friends
and family, as they meet at all the community events!
We met in the Terracotta Warrior gift shop, owned by my friends Charles
and Grace. It's a wonderful shop and I bought two silk ties – one
with Pandas, another with dragons… and a special framed print as a
Christmas present for my parents (shhh…. it's a secret for now!)
Classmates from Grade 7 Reunited – Selena So, Leslie Ikeda and Todd Wong – photo Deb Martin