The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the most important festival in China. The celebration, which officially begins on Friday, February 12th, is the first day of the new year in the Chinese calendar.
This fifteen day celebration, which includes elaborate parades and performances, is considered an official holiday in China. In fact, many Chinese people get seven days off work in observance of this holiday. I definitely think we need to incorporate that into our New Years celebration, don’t you??
Prior to New Years Eve, it is customary to clean your home from top to bottom in order to sweep away any bad luck from the prior year. Once the house is clean, you must wait until the festival is over before you can clean again. Cleaning during the two week celebration is believed to “sweep” away good fortune. Wow…..I love that tradition! I’ll use any excuse not to clean my house….LOL!
As far as decorations, you will often see red lanterns, scrolls and paper designs adorning the windows and doors of homes and businesses. Why the color red? Legend has it that Nian, a ferocious beast who was terrorizing villagers, was afraid of the color red. Using fire and the color red, Nian was defeated by the villagers and from then on red was thought to bring good luck and good fortune to all.
One of the most popular ways to celebrate the Chinese New Year is to hand out red envelopes filled with money. The belief is that the red envelope will ward off evil spirits.
As with most traditions, food is an important part of the New Year celebration and each dish is thoughtfully prepared with the hope of bringing in good things for the new year. Foods that are considered lucky or offer good fortune are always a part of the menu. In other words, you can literally eat your way into a new year filled with abundance, good health and prosperity! I love that!!
While the Chinese people traditionally prepare sumptuous feasts to celebrate the holiday, you can celebrate with just a few ingredients that you may already have in your fridge or your pantry.
If you’re ready to add some luck and prosperity into your life, here are a few foods you’ll want to incorporate into your meal:
Spring rolls or egg rolls which symbolize wealth because their shape resembles a gold bar.
Long noodles, also called longevity noodles, symbolize a long life. But don’t break the noodles when you’re cooking them because that may shorten your life!
Dumplings – the number of dumplings you eat predicts the amount of money you will make (obviously the more, the better).
Fish – a whole fish signifies abundance and family unity. I love to buy a whole trout at Whole Foods and steam it in a skillet. Easy peasy and super yummy!
Citrus fruit – oranges and other citrus fruit are believed to bring good luck, happiness and prosperity. Many people use a bowl of fruit as a centerpiece for their table.
Chinese rice cake – also called a Chinese New Year cake is believed to bring prosperity in life and success in business. The round circular shape represents togetherness and family unity.
Mushrooms are thought to help grow wealth so be sure to add a few to your spring rolls.
Walnuts signify family happiness and make a great addition to your noodle stir fry!
I know you have at least a few of these foods in your house so put on your favorite red shirt and start cooking! It’s definitely time to get this party started!
Cheers to a year filled with abundance, good fortune and prosperity!
Happy Chinese New Year 🙂