Introducing Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration!

Asian Food, Chinese, Chinese New Year, Food, Lunar New Year, Sweets -

Introducing Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration!

        Chinese New Year is a cardinal celebration for Chinese people all over the world. Chinese New Year date varies from year to year according to the alignment of the moon (second new moon after the winter solstice) [1]. Chinese often refers to the Chinese lunar calendar to determine the date each year. This year, Chinese New Year falls on the 5th of February 2019. Other Asian races may also celebrate another form of new year as nation-wide holidays which is generally known as the "Lunar New Year".

 

        A fortnight before the celebration, [2] celebrants thoroughly clean up their houses, and then churn up their interior/exterior design skills to "lighten" up their residence with the color RED - which is an auspicious color to Chinese.

 

Chinese New Year decorations

        Red scrolls embezzled with words signifying the best of luck, health and wealth are also strung and affixed together with ornaments like figurines, cherry trees, lanterns and even oranges around the house.

 

Chinese ladies dressed up nicely

        During this period; barbers, salons and boutiques would be crowded by oceans and oceans of celebrants who wishes look their most presentable with new hairstyles and stylish clothing before the occasion. 

 

Image Courtesy of: ebeijing.gov.cn [7]

 

        Families would reunite and have a New Year Eve's dinner - also known as the "Reunion Dinner". Some popular dishes for the reunion dinner are as follow:

  • Yee Sang - [3] originated from Melaka, Malaysia and common only among Malaysian and Singaporean; the dish that also carries the meaning of "Growth and Prosperity" is tossed by diners and then eaten together as on-tray. The main ingredients are leek, cucumber, papaya, white and red ginger, carrots, radish, crackers, peanuts and sesame seeds. The higher this dish is tossed and mess made would indicate bigger luck for the year.
  • Sui Yuk (Crispy Pork Belly)
  • Braised Mushrooms & Abalone
  • Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (The aromatic dish that dates back several centuries to the Qing Dynasty, this is a hotpot with up to 30 auspicious sounding ingredients including abalone, sea cucumber, american ginseng, taro, and mushrooms)
  • Steamboat/hotpot with assorted Ingredients
  • Dumplings & Spring Rolls
  • Longevity Noodles

 

Family Reunion
Image Courtesy of Inmagine [8]

 

        On Chinese New Year's day, married couples would present red packets (or "Hung Bao" in Mandarin) containing money to children to [4] symbolize the bestowing of happiness, blessings and to wish the recipients a year full of safety and peace. Some families would even hire lion dance performance at their residence to ward away evil!

 

Chinese Lion Dance

 

        During the course of the 23 day celebration, celebrants would visit relatives' and friends who would then serve a range of festive snacks. Below are some examples of Chinese New Year snacks and foods. The first three are common among all Chinese in general while the last two are more common among Chinese in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

  • Nian Gao - [5] also known as either the "New Year Cake" or "Rice Cake", Nian Gao is traditionally used as offerings to ancestors and gods and are made from sticky glutinous rice. Due to the pun in the name ("Gao" means tall/high), celebrants eat Nian Gao as a wish to become more successful.
  • Citruses - [6] tangerines and oranges are believed to bring good luck and fortune as they are pronounced as a pun of "success" and the Chinese character means "luck". Pomelo on the other hand is a pun of "to have" which means wealth.
  • Meat Jerky
  • Assorted Cookies and Sweets - an assortment of cookies are served to house guests during Chinese New Year i.e Pineapple Tarts, Peanut Cookies, Butter Cookies, Crisps crackers (Keropok), Gelatin Sweets, Biscottis, Muruku etc.
  • Assorted Cakes - Kek Lapis (Layer Cake), Bahulu, Brownies, Western Cakes, Crepe etc.

 

Chinese New Year Cookies & Cakes - Courtesy of Guai Shu Shu

Image Courtesy of Guai Shu Shu

     

    At SavourofAsia, we would like to wish everyone a Happy Lunar New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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    We also have a range of Chinese New Year food and snacks available on our online store. Click HERE to place your order now!

     

    References

    • [1] Kelly, J n.d., "The Chinese Calendar", howstuffworks <https://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays-other/chinese-new-year1.htm>
    • [2] Chan, H 2004, Celebrating Chinese New Year: An Activity Book, Asia for Kids.
    • [3] Ng, K 2016, "Yee Sang 101: Why Do We Toss It And What Does It Symbolize?", Malaysia Tatler <https://my.asiatatler.com/dining/yee-sang-101-why-we-toss-what-does-it-symbolise>
    • [4] Chinese Red Envelopes/Packets (Hongbao) - Amount, Symbols and How to Give, China Highlights <https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/festivals/red-envelop.htm>
    • [5] What to Eat During Chinese New Year n.d., Chinese New Year Dishes, CNY2019 <https://chinesenewyear.net/food/>
    • [6] "Chinese New Year Food: Top 7 Lucky Foods and Symbolism" n.d., China Highlights <https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-food/chinese-new-year-food.htm>
    • www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/buddha-jumps-over-wall-hotpot
    • [7] www.ebeijing.gov.cn/feature_2/Traditional_Fesitival/Spring_Festival/Cuisine_SP/t1020733.htm
    • [8] www.vulcanpost.com/4656/the-year-i-choose-to-behave-like-an-adult-during-chinese-new-year/