The Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival is a traditional event woven in with rich traditional colors. The New year eve dinner is the most important dinner for the Chinese families all around the world, especially with family members strewn around globally.
The Chinese New Year Dinner or the Nian ye Fan; is generally held at the house of the eldest member of the family, or a convenient place near him. All the family members are expected to be present for this gala dinner. Following the dinner, people also visit other family friend and neighbors. Houses are scrubbed clean as the Chinese New Year also coincides with the spring festival.
Houses are painted to usher in festivities. Red and Gold are the most seen colors as they symbolize prosperity and good luck. Chinese families who are Buddhist or follows Taoism offers prayer in the newly decorated alters, before sitting down for the New Year dinner. Prayers are made for the New Year to be prosperous and for the departed ancestors. Firecrackers are burst too.
The New Year Dinner Menu –
The New Year Reunion dinner is an elaborate and a gala affair. a huge and lavish spread is offered and symbolically lucky items like fish and oranges are served. A very sticky New Year cake is baked, and is shared with friends, family and neighbors as a goodwill gesture and to wish all of a prosperous New Year.
The New Year Dinner traditionally includes a hot pot, which symbolizes the joyful coming together of all the family
members. The custom since time immemorial was to serve 99 dishes, as the no nine is considered to be lucky by the Chinese people. Let us take a look at the food served during this elaborate and hearty meal –
- Fish – Fish in Chinese is pronounced as Yu which is similar sounding for prosperity and surplus in Chinese. Fish is considered lucky and is believed to bring abundance of money; thus sometimes it is eaten as left over too to signify leftover surplus wealth from the previous year. The blessing of Nian Nian You Yu, means may you have surplus and bountiful harvests every year.
- Dumplings – Dumplings resemble the shape of the Chinese good luck coins called Yuanbao, thus symbolically they are supposed to usher in prosperity.They were very popular during the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty. Dumplings are often known to be eaten at midnight also. In some places it is known for people to put a clean coin in the dumplings, as whoever consumes it should have prosperity.
- Mandarin Oranges – Mandarin oranges are found in abundance in Spring, during the New Year celebration. Thus it is mandated to have mandarin oranges on the table to wish prosperity for all the family members.
- Uncut Noodles – The uncut and long noodles are absolute New Year specialties and are served to wish long lives; as the long noodles to all the family members.
- Melon Seeds – Melon seeds are traditionally believed to symbolize fertility. Thus serving of lemon seeds or sunflower seeds, even pumpkin seeds in some cases signify the hope of hearing good news about the family expanding or news of new born babies in the New Year.
- Chicken – Chicken is served boiled in the traditional New Year dinner. It is believed that no matter how humble the background is, everyone in New Year can afford to serve boiled chicken.
- New Year Cake – The sticky New Year cake was originally and traditionally used to worship Gods and ancestors during this festivity. The Chinese pronunciation of cake; Niangao resonates with the meaning of “increasingly prosperous year after year”. The cake is made of glutinous rice powder and can be had in various options of frying, boiling or steaming.
- Hot Pot – Hot Pot is a must in some parts of the country for the New Year celebration, as eating hot pot makes people feel warm and also the auspicious red colour is indicative of the prosperity of the ensuing year.
- Spring Rolls – Fresh vegetables or ingredients in spring time are wrapped inside and had to welcome the spring, with which the Chinese New Year coincides.
Other than these pork, or a black hair-like algae called fat choy is also used in many dishes, since it’s name has a similar sounding resemblance to prosperity, which is known as fa cai. The belief remains that having the fat choy will lead to the other; that is it will lead to prosperity.
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