Happy Lunar New Year! Chinese new year is easily one of my favourite occasions because the house is decorated with lucky red and gold decorations and plenty of auspicious phrases. I love the traditional rituals we have during this time of year including spring cleaning, buying new clothes, getting fresh hair cuts before New Years day, crates of leafy oranges and eating all the traditional foods.
The things we can’t do during this time are super annoying like not being able to buy new shoes or getting a hair cut over the festive period. To explain, hair is a homophone for ‘luck’ so you wouldn’t want to cut or wash away your luck during new years. The word for shoes sounds like ‘rough’ in Cantonese or ‘evil’ in Mandarin so it’s probably best to avoid! Most Chinese families might not bother with some of these superstitions, but my family are really traditional. Over the years, I’ve really grown fond of the superstitions!
There is significance to everything we do, but the reasoning to pretty much everything is that they symbolise good fortune, prosperity and abundance. One of my regular snaps is the candy box which is red as it’s a lucky colour in Chinese culture. The box is filled with candied fruits and sweets and eaten to promote a lucky year ahead – some would say a sweet year ahead! As a kid, I only ever liked the sweet dried coconut pieces but I have grown to love the candied lotus seeds and winter melon. I added the gold coins this year and they’ve gone down a treat. Dentists…look away now!
Chinese new year always involves a big family meal at my grandma’s house. Just like our Christmas celebrations, there are two tables – the adults table and the kid’s table. These days the kid’s table is pretty crowded with ages ranging from under 1 years old to 34 years old. The food involved always includes lobster with ginger and spring onions, fish (which is an essential dish at new year, because it symbolises prosperity), roast pork belly, Chinese roast duck and a bunch of traditional Hakka dishes made by my grandma. The braised pork belly is one of my favourites! Usually, there are even more dishes but my grandma has been under the weather so my mum stepped in and helped with the dishes this year.
Laisee or ‘lucky red envelopes’ are always given out to kids/the unmarried. It’s never ever about the money but I do always look forward to receiving the pretty red packets. The problem is, I have quite the collection of empty packets because they’re just too pretty to throw away. This year for a bit of fun, I handed some red envelopes out to my colleagues at work and filled them with chocolate coins – they loved them!
Happy new year to all those who celebrate lunar new year! 恭喜發財！ 祝大家新年快樂，身體健康，心想事成 ◦