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Celebrating Chinese New Year
Article in images

Chinese New Year traditions


 - Chinese New Year traditions
© Alfred/SIPA
The Chinese New Year is also known as the “Spring Festival” and traditionally, many foods that have symbolism are also eaten at this time.

Animals – roasted suckling pigs, fried and steamed fish and stewed chickens – are served whole because it symbolizes “completeness”, “wholeness” and “unity”.

Traditionally dishes with names that sound similar to lucky phrases are also served. For example, stewed black algae moss is popular not because it is the best tasting dish ever, but because it is pronounced “Fa Cai” and it sounds like “Fa Tsai”, which is to “grow wealth and prosperity”.

Traditionally noodles are also served around this time of year because they symbolize longevity (as long as you don’t cut them!) and gold and red colored foods – like golden oranges or clementines – are served because these are the luckiest colors, symbolizing wealth and prosperity. Red apples are served because red is a lucky color. Fish is served because the word fish in Mandarin Chinese, “Yu” is also a homonym for “abundance”. 

When I was growing up, there were two things about Chinese New Year that I looked forward to the most – the feast and receiving my “hong bao”, red packets stuffed with money. These are given by the elderly to young children, and are sometimes also called “Ya Siu Chien” – “suppress evil money” – and are given to protect children by suppressing evil spirits with money.

I love the traditions, myths and legends of Chinese New Year – the stories we would share, the symbolism, and festivities, everything! What could be better than feasting and sharing with loved ones, reminiscing about the past and dreaming of the future?

I love the fact that Chinese New Year is given love and attention in the UK and all over the world. Throughout UK, many families from all backgrounds join in this celebration and it is wonderful. I am really delighted to be able to share my top tips and ideas for holding your own fabulous Chinese New Year party as well as share with you my five spice chicken with Shanghainese Nian gao and mushroom stir fry.
Hope you enjoy it!

Wishing you “Gong Xi Fa Cai” – wealth, happiness and prosperity in the Year of the Tiger. Happy cooking and eating!

Love, Ching

Catch Ching's latest Chinese
cookery show Chinese Food in Minutes  on Channel Five every Tuesday night at 7.30 p.m. Ching also has three books: Chinese Food in Minutes (to accompany the series), Chinese Food Made Easy and China Modern. For more information see: www.chinghehuang.com


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