Chinese Cuisine · Good Food · Holidays · Lunar New Year · Vegetables · What's Cooking in My Kitchen?

February’s theme starts with a ‘baaaaa’

When you think of February, you immediately think of Valentine’s Day, don’t you? Well, that is not the only festival being celebrated in February this year.

On the 19th of February 2015, many Chinese and Asians, around the world, will be celebrating ‘Lunar New Year’,  more commonly known as Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival.

 To know more about this very important festival, read on…

History

Symbolism

The colour red, is used for most celebrations –  at weddings; for special occasions, and the red envelopes (hong bao) that are filled with cash and handed out over new year, are also red. The national flag is red, with gold (yellow), and lanterns that are hung up during festivals, are also red. This colour symbolises good fortune and joy.

Zodiac

In Chinese tradition, there are twelve zodiac animals, which are based on a twelve year cycle. They are:

  1. Rat
  2. Ox
  3. Tiger
  4. Rabbit
  5. Dragon
  6. Snake
  7. Horse
  8. Sheep
  9. Monkey
  10. Rooster
  11. Dog
  12. Pig

 2015 is the year of the Sheep (or goat; or ram). Which means that any babies born this year, will be ‘Sheep’, and also those born twelve years ago, or twenty-four, or forty-eight years ago (you get the idea). Here are some of the characteristics of a SHEEP/GOAT:

Courtesy of activityvillage.co.uk
Courtesy of activityvillage.co.uk

New Year Traditions

Depending on which region in China you are from (it is a huge country!), and also depending on your family traditions, the typical new year traditions will vary. I’ve read on different sites that there are ‘standard’ rules to follow when celebrating the new year in China. These guidelines are helpful, but do not necessarily apply to everyone.

Here are a few traditions that are generally followed throughout the country:

  • One custom that does apply to everyone, is the New Year’s dinner. This is similar to Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter in western countries. It is family time, and even people who live far from their hometowns will make their best efforts to go home to be with their families over this celebration.
  • Fireworks and crackers are lit (often throughout the 15 days of the celebration). This was originally done to ward off evil spirits.
  • Red ‘good luck’ couplets will be stuck on either side of a doorway to a home.
  • Red envelopes (hong bao), containing money, are handed out to children and relatives.
  • A new custom has been for families to gather around their TV sets and watch the New Year’s Eve Gala, which is a special show.

For the month of February, I’ll be sharing six Asian-inspired dishes.

So, take out your wok, pick up your chopsticks chopstix, and also your bottle of gluten-free soy sauce.

The first, tasty, gluten free asian-inspired recipe will be up tomorrow…

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