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DUMPLINGS DUMPLINGS DUMPLINGS!
Chinese Year Eve
“Gung Hay Fat Choy! Wishing you good fortune and happiness!” These are common happy phrases you might hear people greet one another. This festival marks the new year, Chinese New Year, or as we call it, Chinese Chunjie which changes year-to-year. The exact date of the New Year in comparison to the western calendar is different. The date for the New Year is determined by the Chinese lunar calendar. The reason is that the exact date is based on the movement of the moon. It begins when there is a first new moon and it lasts for 15 days. It usually occurs somewhere between the middle of January and the middle of February. A different animal represents each year for twelve years; then the cycle repeats itself. It is believed that each animal represents different characteristics.
The festivals last for weeks. They usually begin around the twentieth day of the twelfth lunar month with preparation for the New Year. For this celebration, we celebrate New Year Eve with food! Making dumplings 饺子 as a whole family has always been a tradition in my family. It symbolizes family reunion and a great event to share happiness by preparing food together and eating the dumplings on New Year’s Eve. Dumplings also represent prosperity because of the shape of the dumpling resembles ancient gold money.
In addition to dumplings 饺子, my family also has these seven lucky dishes to ensure we have a great new year full of love, happiness, luck, good health, and prosperity.
Steam fish 鱼 (brings prosperity for the entire year),
Chicken 鸡 (togetherness and rebirth),
Spring rolls 春卷 (A saying, 黄金万两 which means a ton of gold and bring wealth to the family or individual),
Noodles 长寿面 (symbolizes long life where the noodles are not cut so it represents the longevity of the person eating the noodles),
Nian gao/ glutinous rice cake 年糕 (A saying, 年年高 which mean getting higher year after year in Chinese. This can be translated that you will meet your career goals),
Tangyuan 汤圆 (A saying, 团团圆圆 where it means round, and family unity),
Fruits which are usually tangerine 桔/ pomelo 柚 (fullness and wealth since they round fruits and “golden in colour”).
These are some common things to avoid on Chinese New Year
Avoid taking medicine (will be sick in the year)
Avoid sweeping and taking out the garbage (means throwing luck away) on the day of Chinese New Year but it should be done the day before
Avoid washing clothes and hair (means washing luck away) on the day of Chinese New Year
(these are ideas passed down from generation to generation).
Chinese New Year is a time where we are reunited as a family. Relatives and family members all make an effort to gather. Historically, the holiday began when Chinese farmers planted their rice crops in the spring and they waited for the plans to grow, While they waited, everyone in the family would clean the house (now we clean days before Chinese New year) and pray for a good harvest. Over the last 1000 years, the time they spend waiting became the new year celebration. Everyone joins in house cleaning, which symbolic of “sweeping out the old, welcoming in the new.” Some families put their knives and scissors since they don’t want to risk “cutting their luck” in the coming year. When the house is clean, they will begin to decorate the house with scrolls with Chinese words, couplets (short poems) and pictures. Lastly, they light bonfires, firecrackers, and fireworks to scare away evil spirits. They also have a lion dance to end off the celebration along with the lantern festival.
Here at Haisue, we wish everyone a Happy Lunar New Year! May the Year of the Rat brings you success in all areas of your life!