Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, is one of the most celebrated festivals of the year. The Lunar New Year is considered more than just the start of a new calendar year. It is a time of reunion and rebirth, marking the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
Beginning as a celebration to commemorate deities and ancestors, the Lunar New Year has evolved into a time to feast and gather with family and friends. Originating in China, the festival is celebrated worldwide.
For your go-to guide on Lunar New Year traditions and how you can take part in the global celebration, continue reading.
How is Lunar New Year Celebrated?
Food, family, and friends all play important roles in the celebration of the Lunar New Year. Each family may have their own unique ways of celebrating, but there are a few similar threads that are evident across the world.
- Cleaning and Decorating with Red
Those celebrating the festival give their homes a deep clean, which represents washing away the ill-luck of the previous year and preparing their homes to accept good luck.
The festival's predominant colour is red, which is seen to be an auspicious hue for the Lunar New Year, indicating prosperity and good energy. Often, red lanterns are hung in the streets and outside of homes.
- Spending Time with Family & Friends
The Lunar New Year is a time for family and friends to gather together. Typically, large families of numerous generations gather around circular tables to enjoy the cuisine and each other's company.
Many families will arrange feasts, clean their houses thoroughly, and pay tribute to past relatives during this two-week celebration. Ultimately, it is a time for gathering.
- Sharing Gifts & Entertainment
Known in Mandarin as “Hong Bao,” red envelopes are filled with money and presented as gifts by elders to young children. As mentioned previously, the color red and gold symbolize good prosperity and are evident throughout the festival.
It wouldn’t be a celebration without a parade and dancing, right? The Lunar New Year is celebrated with fireworks and large parades that include dancers, floats, and lion and dragon costumes. It has been said that the parades work to drive away bad luck.
The Importance of the Reunion Feast & Food
The reunion feast is seen to be the most important element of the celebration, as well as the most important meal of the year. Large families of numerous generations gather around circular tables to enjoy the cuisine and each other's company.
Food plays an important role in the festivities, with feasts offered and family members cooking traditional meals with one another. Food also serves as a metaphor, with each meal symbolizing something different. Long noodles, for example, represent hope for long life, while fish dishes are popular for implying abundance for the next year.
These traditional Lunar New Year meals have lucky significance based on their pronunciations or looks. Not only do the dishes themselves important, but so do the preparation, serving, and eating methods. Let’s explore some dishes.
In Chinese, "fish" (鱼 Yú /yoo/) sounds like the word 'surplus' and is a typical Lunar New Year dish. The symbolism behind fish is that by eating the fish-based meal, you will acquire an abundance of money, good luck, and more.
The fish can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, steaming, and braising.
One of the most popular fish dishes is a Whole Black Bass with Ginger and Scallions.
Immensely popular in China, dumplings (饺子 Jiǎozi /jyaoww-dzrr/) are a classic lucky food for the Lunar New Year and a traditional dish eaten on New Year’s eve.
Dating back thousands of years, it is believed that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year's festivities, the more money you can make in the New Year.
Dumplings are often made with minced meat and finely chopped vegetables enclosed in a thin, elastic dough casing. Fillings that are popular include minced pork, chopped shrimp, fish, ground chicken, beef, and veggies.
They may be prepared in a variety of ways, including boiling, steaming, frying, and baking.
One of the most popular dumpling dishes is the Pork and Chive Dumplings.
- Sweet Rice Balls
Sweet rice ball (汤圆 Tāngyuán /tung-ywen/) is the major cuisine for the Lantern Festival, and enjoyed by many throughout the Spring Festival.
The specific pronunciation and circular form are related to the symbolism of reunion and being together. As a result, they are popular among many during the Lunar New Year celebrations.
One of the most popular rice ball recipes is the Sticky Rice Balls.
- Longevity Noodles
Longevity noodles (长寿面 Chángshòu Miàn /chung-show myen/) symbolize the wish for longevity. In Northern China, this meal is considered a fortunate meal and is eaten popularly on New Year’s Day.
They are longer and uncut than regular noodles, and are either fried and served on a plate or boiled and served in a bowl with soup.
One of the most popular longevity noodle dishes is the Concubine’s Chicken Recipe.
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