- Chinese New Year begins from today.
- The Lunar New Year is a 15-day festival in China.
- Traditional food includes meat dishes and mandarin oranges.
The Chinese New Year is also known as the Lunar New Year. It has been celebrated for centuries now. It has many colorful traditions as well as myths associated with it. However, even within China, the celebrations and traditions related to the Chinese New Year vary widely. The celebrations for the New Year begin from the evening before the first day and go on till the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese calendar. The last day of the festival is celebrated as the Lantern Festival. The New Year in China is a time to offer gratitude to all the deities as well as the ancestors.
Chinese New Year Traditional Feast
On the evening preceding the first day of the New Year, it is customary for all Chinese families to gather for an annual 'reunion dinner'. The dinner is called Nian Ye Fan and it traditionally includes dishes made from meats including pork and chicken, as well as fish. The dinner is typically sumptuous and most of them also prominently feature meat dishes with duck meat and Chinese sausages, as well as seafood. These specialty meats are reserved for serving during the New Year's eve and also during other special occasions throughout the year.
Since eight is considered to be lucky, the same number of individual dishes are served to reflect the belief of good fortune. If in case the family had suffered a death in the previous year, then seven dishes are served. An interesting food tradition related to eating fish on Chinese New Year is that of leaving fish dishes unfinished and storing the remainder of these dishes overnight. This tradition is symbolic of the Chinese phrase "may there be surpluses every year".
Here are five traditional dishes served on Chinese New Year:
1. Buddha's Delight
This is a pure vegetarian dish, where one of the key ingredients is a black hair-like algae called 'fat choy' in Cantonese. It's supposed to be a symbol of prosperity.
2. Taro and Turnip Cakes
Cakes made from root vegetables like taro or colocasia and turnips are also served on Chinese New Year.
3. Jau Gok
For Cantonese families, this is the main Chinese New Year dumpling. It is believed to resemble gold and silver ingots, hence representing prosperity in the coming year.
4. Nian Gao or Chinese New Year Pudding
This sweet dish is most popular in eastern China and is also known as the Chinese New Year pudding. It is made from rice flour mixed with wheat starch and water, and seasoned with salt and sugar.
5. Mandarin Oranges
Mandarin oranges are common during Chinese New Year and are especially associated with southern China, where the name sounds like the word for "luck" in the local dialects.
Apart from this, boiled chicken, noodles and sunflower, pumpkin and melon seeds are also featured in feasts during the Chinese New Year. It is also believed that eating raw fish salad on New Year's Eve will bring good luck in the next year. Happy Chinese New Year 2018!