Hello Year of the Horse! Chinese New Year is a big deal in our house and most Chinese follow different variations of traditions – some stricter than others! In our house, the past few weeks has seen mandarin oranges, traditional festive foods and plenty of decorations enter our household. Among some of the traditions/superstitions before New Years Day include getting a hair cut (getting a hair cut during CNY is a no-no), cleaning the house from top to bottom, replacing the lucky laisee (red envelope) that we keep under our beds for new ones, cleansing away the old year with a pomelo leaf bath on New Years Eve, buying fresh flowers to welcome in the New Year and making sure to keep some house lights on (we keep our hallway light on) – to welcome in the New Year light.
Again, not all Chinese follow this but in our house, various offerings were burned for the Kitchen God (my knowledge about these things and the Buddhist traditions in our house are kind of rusty!). Tong yuen/glutinous rice balls were used for worship or 拜神/bai sun. Afterwards, any food offerings are always eaten. Tong Yuen is one of my favourite things ever – served in a sweet sugary ginger syrup with various fillings – these were sesame. SO GOOD.
As with every CNY post that I’ve done in the past (they’re all pretty similar) it is all about family and food – something I am much more well versed in! Firstly we have a Reunion dinner on the Eve. There is always chicken and Chinese roast pork belly as my mum would have used them for bai sun/worship earlier in the day. We like to dip our roast pork belly in a little sugar – one of my uncles commented on this once and said that we are super old school Hong Kong for still doing this instead of mustard.
This is followed by a New Years Day dinner. Instead of having one on New Years Day, we had it on Sunday at my grandmothers. We have the same food pretty much every year – so take a look at last years too. Included are lobster, sea bass and some stewed Hakka dishes (my mum’s side are all Hakka people) I wasn’t able to take many photos this year as everyone was eager to eat – blogger problems!
As ever, the ‘Kids table’ which is pictured above was filled with food but there is actually a dish of suckling pig that is missing in this pic! There are some dishes that are ‘must-haves’ as part of the New Year dinner. For example, the phrase “年年有余” is an auspicious saying which translates to roughly as ‘to have more/surplus every year’. This phrase can be in regards to anything i.e health/business/finance so it’s a lucky phrase to welcome in the New Year. The character ‘余’ sounds similar to fish – so having fish at the meal is a must!
While the traditions of CNY lasts a little longer, this was the last big family get-together at my grandmothers until next Christmas. It has been a wonderful weekend and I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into what I get up to during this time, see my Instagram for a few more pics. Wishing everyone an amazing lunar new year ahead – 恭喜發財, 新年快樂!