HAPPY CNY ’11!
HELLO! It’s the Chinese New Year! :]
It’s just the same as the usual 1st Jan new year, just that for Chinese, it’s the new year on the lunar calendar. Chinese follow the lunar calendar while majority follow the normal calendar in most homes.
Last night, the 2nd Feb, families will gather together to have a reunion dinner. This is the night where no matter where you are, you will travel home to be with your family and reunite with them. Of course as time goes by, the tradition diminishes as well. However, there are still a handful who still follows.
Before dinner starts, everyone gathers to toss this ‘Chinese salad’ or lo hey as many know. It consists of many vegetables like carrots, radish, cucumber, etc topped with salmon sashimi (signifying excess every year; Chinese believe in having more than less), peanuts (gold) and crispy crackers (gold as well; may gold line the floor). Everyone takes a pair of chopsticks and toss while saying their personal wishes or for the family. Many wish for more money, better grades, striking 4D & toto, good schools, etc. Some wishes are really funny as well.
Then comes dinner. It is usually a steamboat, if not, a table full of dishes. Not forgetting every Chinese’s favorite – roast duck and steamed chicken. Each dish will have it’s significance, for example abalone looks like a gold ingot so it signifies wealth. After dinner, it’s the typical ‘gambling’ time. Card games & mahjong are popular games for everyone to enjoy.
Children will stay up past midnight to ‘pray for longevity for their parents’. It’s a tradition that the later you stay up, the older your parents will live.
Today, the 3rd Feb, is the first day of the new year. This is when families are out visiting relatives, starting with visiting the oldest relative. Before that, they will eat a vegetarian breakfast. Every 1st & 15th of the month is a ‘vegetarian day’ for Chinese, or rather buddhists. After this breakfast, they’ll each get a bowl of sweet dessert to start the new year. (It’s supposed to be before breakfast, but due to it’s sweetness, people tend to eat it after breakfast instead)
During visiting, the visiting party will present 2 oranges to the eldest in the host family. It signifies good luck and prosperity. In return, they’ll receive a red packet as a little token from the host.
Visitation may vary from 1 day to more for some. Depending on the size of your extended family.
On the 15th day of the month, dinner would be vegetarian again. Gathering may or may not take place here.
This is just but a short excerpt of what CNY is like for Chinese. Just sharing a little about a different culture with all of you (: Happy Chinese New Year! :]
PS Hope you collect more red packets! $_$