Next Sunday, February 10th, is the Chinese New Year. Let’s join in the celebration this year. We’ll learn a little bit about the history behind it, customs, and share a few delicious recipes in the process.
Just FYI, did you know that Christianity is the fastest growing religion in China right now? That’s definitely worth celebrating!
Chinese New Year is the most important of all the traditional Chinese holidays. People in China and Taiwan may also refer to it as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival.
Chinese months are calculated around a lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth day, when the moon is brightest. In China, New Year preparations are similar to Christmas in America. Many people may take vacation from work or school to prepare for and celebrate the New Year.
The Chinese buy presents, decorate with red paper decorations, and cook large feast for the event. It is also the tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck.
Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year. Parents and family members give the children money wrapped in red paper envelopes. (As a side note, Chinese families also give money wrapped in red paper to a bride and groom at a Chinese wedding and at the birth a baby)
Chinese New Year Foods
Certain foods hold symbolism to Chinese people.”Lucky” foods are served throughout the two week Chinese New Year celebration. A whole chicken symbolizes family togetherness. Long noodles represent long life. It’s actually considered bad luck to cut the noodles.
Spring Rolls and clams symbolize wealth. Spring Rolls are shaped to look like gold bars. Lettuce wraps are served to remind the people of the hope of rising fortunes. Oranges, tangerines, and pomelos are passed out freely as symbols of luck, wealth, and abundance.
These symbols of abundance,wealth, prosperity, and family unity are very important to the Chinese. One of those symbols, fish, plays a large role in the festivities. The Chinese word for fish is “yu,” and it sounds like the Chinese words for wish or abundance. So, it is not uncommon to see a whole fish being served at the end of the evening meal. A whole fish, with head and tail still attached, symbolizes a good beginning to a new year and the ending of the old.
Finally, sweet sticky rice cakes are served for dessert to symbolize a rich sweet life. The layers on the rice cake also symbolize rising abundance in the new year, and the round shape of the rice cake symbolizes family togetherness.
Chinese New Year Menu
Here’s an easy way to enjoy Chinese New Year without speading hours in the kitchen. Pick up some of the Chinese food dishes from the local grocer/deli or local Chinese restaurant and combine with a few home cooked dishes and desserts
- Roasted Chicken (buy a roasted chicken from the local grocer or deli)
- Spring Rolls, Egg Rolls, lo mein long noodles, and sweet & sour sauce can all be bought from a local Chinese restaurant.
- Lettuce wraps are easy to make.
- Steamed fish and clams can be bought from the grocery seafood department (some stores will steam these for free).
- Set a fruit bowl out loaded with tangerines, oranges, and grapefruits (similar to pomelos)
- Rice Cake or New Year’s Cake is not so easy to make. Consider picking it up at a Chinese bakery, or make a family favorite instead. Chinese desserts are not as sweet as traditional American desserts.
More Recipes and Ideas
Throughout this next week, on our Facebook page, I’ll be sharing with you all kinds of wonderful Chinese Food recipes and decorating ideas. Come join in the conversation and the fun. Also check out my Molly Pinterest Boards. I have one dedicated to Chinese Recipes!
How Will You celebrate Chinese New Year?
Will you be joining in the fun this week? Will you make a few Chinese Food recipes? Will you decorate or play games? Share with us how you will make this fun at your house. My family really enjoys Chinese Food, but at the average price of $10 a plate in a restaurant, we’ve learned to cook many of our favorite dishes at home. Have you done the same?