Being Chinese/Asian, we have the added bonus that we get to celebrate two New Year’s. It really is like Christmas/New Year’s again…
As many of you would have known that yesterday was Chinese/Lunar New Year. Now before we celebrate Chinese New Year, there are a number of preparations that need to be done.
The house will be cleaned and tidied from top to bottom and new Chinese red decorations are hung around the house all before Chinese New Year. On New Year’s Eve (年三十), you have a ‘Reunion Dinner’, named as 團圓飯 which family members gather for a celebration. For the past 6 years, it has just been me and my mum as my sister lives in Dubai. So between me and my mum we have about 6-8 dishes and one soup to consume between the 2 of us! You
may will think it is a lot of food, but as its Chinese New Year, the more the merrier.
Most reunion dinners traditionally will includes dishes of meat, fish, seafood and vegetables. Each dish has its own traditional meaning.
Chicken (presented as a whole) symbolises completeness, prosperity and togetherness of the family. I’ve also been told that every family will always have chicken on the table, no matter how rich or how poor you are as it is said that every family can always afford to eat Chicken for a reunion dinner.
Fish (presented as whole) has the same pronunciation as the word 餘, which means ‘remain or surplus’. So families will make sure that there are leftovers of the fish, that will be stored overnight as this will give the meaning of ‘may there be surpluses every year’ (年年有餘), which sounds the same as ‘let there be fish every year’.
With the Green Vegetables/Mixed Vegetables dishes, each vegetables has a symbolic meaning for longevity, prosperity, harmony, good luck and exceeding wealth.
Prawns (大虾), symbolises liveliness and happiness and eating this will symbolise happiness for the year.
Pork (猪肉), symbolises strength, and wealth.
Rice (米饭) has the meaning of fertility, luck, wealth and rice symbolizes a link between Heaven (Gods) and Earth (Men) – something I did not know! Also in my family, it is a traditional to have a second bowl of rice, even if its just one spoonful, as my mum says it is to ensure there is rice for you every day for the year.
Now on Chinese New Year day (年初一), my mother wakes up early to start the proceedings for Chinese New Year. It is also a day where you must not clean the house. Any sweeping with a broom is considered bad luck as you’re sweeping away your good fortune. Also for me, I cannot bang or drill anything into walls (not that I will anyway…). It is also a day where my mother cannot tell me off, for not doing this and that!
Depending on your family traditions, on Chinese New Year I do not eat any meat. My mum throughout the year on the 1st day and 15th day she doesn’t eat any meat, only vegetarian dish. The vegetarian dish is known as Buddha’s Delight (Jai/菜) and is a vegetable stew that is cooked with lots of different types of vegetables. In this dish, you will usually have a mix of different types of vegetables, glass noodles, fried tofu, Chinese mushrooms, black fungus, black moss, lotus roots and sweetcorn.
Eating Buddha’s Delight as a first meal is steamed from a Buddish tradition that this dish symbolises purification and cleansing of the body and soul.
The first day of CNY, also is a day where as children (anyone that is not married is still classed as children – ok?! haha) will receive red pockets from family members. I usually don’t go round visiting family members until the 2nd day of Chinese New Year, as the first day is always a busy mad day for my mother!
On the 2nd day of Chinese New Year (年初二), which is also known as ‘beginning of the year’ (開年). My mother will do another traditional blessing to the Gods and then its a new start to the day. This is the day we usually go round to family to wish them a Happy New Year. For my mother she can do her cleaning and tell me off! (haha – I promise I am a good daughter!)
As mentioned before of the food symbolisms we eat for Chinese New Year, there are also a few Chinese traditions/superstitions that I need to follow (every family is different).
Hair cut – so whilst you need to look presentable on Chinese New Year. I have to cut my hair before Chinese New Year, and I cannot cut my hair for a month. As cutting hair, means cutting your life short/cutting away fortune.
Using a broom – as mentioned before, sweeping the house using a broom is considered as bad luck as you’re sweeping away good fortune.
Buying shoes – There is also another ban for me, buying shoes. As the pronunciation sounds like you’re sighing, and no one wants to sigh for the rest of the year!
Taking medication – On the first day of CNY, I’m not allowed to take any medication, as it could mean you will be ill a number of times throughout the year.
There are a whole load of Chinese superstitions, but the main ones that I have to follow are the ones above.
I hope this post has given you an insight of what Chinese New Year is like for me and maybe some other Chinese people (as everyone has a different traditions). I hope 2017 brings great health, wealth, luck, love and happiness to everyone!