The Year of the Horse is upon us! This year, January 31 marks the Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year. You’ve got fifteen days to celebrate – make a perfect gathering of family, friends and colleagues. All you need are certain elements to make this year the most auspicious celebration ever:
The Importance of Color
You can never go wrong with the color of fire! Red symbolizes good fortune and happiness, so it’s the perfect color to decorate with! As the wheel of fortune turns, auspicious shades will change too. Since it’s the Year of the Chinese Green Wood Horse, check CHIYO out to see the best colors to wear to complement the Wood Horse this year. We’re excited about the colors green and purple! Remember, no white or black allowed – we’re not mourning!
Walk around Chinatown, and you won’t miss huge hanging paper lanterns. What’s not to love? The lanterns are loud, and if in red, can ward off bad luck! Make your own lanterns with a step-by-step guide and template from Spoonful. Remember: It’s party decor, it’s not meant to be lit!
We love our fortune cookies! It may not actually be a Chinese staple, but consuming it is a part of our culture. Instead of serving the cookies, make paper fortune cookies instead! No crumbling mess, just gorgeous decor for guests to go home with. Get your instructions here!
Place tangerines and oranges around the house, for more of that good luck and wealth! Closely associated the words “luck” and “wealth”, gift these fruits to usher in and share all the good fortune.
What You Serve Is Also Important
The Chinese have their own superstitions about what and how they eat during Chinese New Year. There’s so many meaningful dishes to serve, so we break down a few of our favorites:
Potstickers are essentially Chinese dumplings. Shaped like gold ingots – an ancient Chinese currency – the potstickers symbolize prosperity and wealth. Not sure about making your own? The Brooklyn Wok Shop can help with their amazing pork potstickers! Stuffed with pork, cabbage, mushrooms and Chinese sausage – you’ll need a lot to satisfy your guests! Don’t fret, Vegetarians. The Brooklyn Wok Shop has a garlic and chive potsticker for you too.
Serve your guests with a gorgeous plate of Long Life Fertility Noodles with Happy Shrimp! Noodles symbolize a long life, so slurp your noodles if you must! Shrimps (pronounced “Haa” in Chinese – which sounds like laughter) on the other hand, symbolizes happiness and good fortune. On top of that, sesame seeds in this dish is symbolic of harvest and potential for all good things to come – so eat up for all of this year’s goodness!
Quite a few celebrating Chinese New Year will also go vegetarian on the first day, following the Buddhist tradition that no animal should die on New Year’s. Serve a hearty dish of veggie fried brown rice! It’s a chockfull of vegetable goodness and rice – symbolizing fertility, and a link between Heaven and humans on earth. If you plan to add broccoli or cauliflower into the mix, cook it whole! The thousand blossoms on each stalk represents a blossoming year, so get cooking!
Other dishes you should consider serving includes fish, for abundance, as well as chicken, to represent togetherness and rebirth. Nian gao (sticky rice cake) is also a must for all that good luck, with stir-fried sticky rice cake. If you have a few hours to work with, serve Buddha’s Delight – a complex vegetarian dish of texture for good luck. Really, all the dishes you serve during Chinese New Year lunch or dinner should signify unity, and prosperity for all!
Chinese New Year Superstitions
Most Chinese get extremely superstitious during this time of the year, so take note! Clean the house thoroughly to rid of ill energy in the house. Remember to open the windows and do all the cleaning before the first day of celebration, as sweeping with the broom is like sweeping away all the good fortune coming into your life! If possible, don’t wash your hair on the first day too – don’t get rid of that luck!
Another way to share that good luck is to prepare red packets (also known as “ang pow”) as monetary gifts, to spread all that good luck and fortune. Traditionally, these packets are given to those who aren’t married yet, and to kids – it doesn’t have to be a fat amount, just anything ending with the number 8 is great (The number in Chinese, “fatt” means prosperity).
Lastly, lighting firecrackers is the perfect way to usher in the New Year, as its deafening sound will ward off evil spirits and of course, bring in all that prosperity and good luck! That is, if it’s permitted in your housing area or apartment building. Trying doesn’t hurt, if you want all that goodness in your life!
We’d like to thank this opportunity to wish all those celebrating a Happy Chinese New Year or Gong Xi Fa Cai!
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