Thursday, February 02, 2006

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year

While most cultures around the world celebrate New Year's as a time of renewal, for the Chinese, New Year means that and much more. It is a time to gather with family, honor ancestors and celebrate with a big banquet of food that symbolizes prosperity in the New Year.

There is an interesting legend surrounding the origin of Chinese New Year. In ancient times, people were tormented by a beast called a Nian. The Nian had a very large mouth, which it used to swallow many people with a single bite. Finally, an old man found a way to trick the beast into disappearing. People celebrate this event at Chinese New Year. In fact, Nian means "year" in modern Chinese, and people often say Guo Nian, meaning "celebrate New Year," while the literal translation is "survive the Nian." The custom of setting off fire-crackers and decorating the home with red paper also has its origins in the myth of the man-eating beast. The loud noises and bright colors are designed to make sure Nian is too scared to ever return. I rung in this 2006 New Year season with a friend who introduced me to a whole new world traditions and food knowledge.

Chinese New Year Food Symbolism
• Black moss seaweed - wealth
• Dried Bean Curd - happiness
• Chicken - happiness and marriage
• Eggs - fertility
• Egg Rolls - wealth
• Fish served whole - prosperity
• Lychee nuts - close family ties
• Noodles - A long life
• Oranges - wealth
• Peanuts - a long life
• Pomelo - abundance, prosperity, having children
• Seeds - lotus seeds, watermelon seeds, etc. - having a large number of children
• Tangerines - luck

May this New Year bring you much happiness and peace.


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