01/24/2012 09:43 EST | Updated 03/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Asian Montrealers welcome Year of the Dragon

It is the year of the Dragon, and across Montreal, people from the city's Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and other East Asian communities marked the start of a new year with family gatherings and prayer.

"In our tradition, in the last of the year, we make food and call all our ancestors back to the house," said Hien Huyng, who shared a meal and exchanged gifts of money in little red envelopes with about 100 friends and relatives.

The dragon is considered one of the most powerful of all Asian zodiac symbols, and Montrealer Loan Trinh Luu said because people born in that year are said to be destined for success and prosperity, many people plan their babies accordingly.

"If they can have a baby in the dragon year, then they would like to have a baby in the dragon year," Luu said, laughing as she insisted that her son Stefan, 23, a medical student, "just happened" to be born in the year of the dragon.

"People always used to say they had greater expectations for you, that you had to be more successful," Stefan Luu said. "It was maybe a little bit of pressure, but not necessarily. It's always in good fun as well."