This year, embrace your inner monkey and swing head first into the Chinese New Year. Take the lead from the animal of the year – a fun little guy that’s notoriously mischievous, clever and curious – and seize the opportunity to explore an unfamiliar cultural tradition or a new take on an old holiday favourite. To help you on your journey to discovery, the team at Real Canadian Superstore® and No Frills® has put together the top five things you may or may not know about Chinese New Year.
Snacks are Symbolic
Many people are aware that food and drink play an important role in the celebration, but did you know that certain ingredients have special significance? Kumquat fruits are popular, for example, because their name in Cantonese and Mandarin sounds similar to the words for gold and good luck. Mandarins, too, are thought to bring about luck and good fortune. Leeks are also a favourite dish – cut to resemble coins, they are believed to encourage a year of wealth.
Meals are Served in Style
Food preparation is important too. Chicken and fish are often served whole, with the head and tail, to symbolize a good year from beginning to end. Noodles are made and served as long as possible to represent a long and healthy life and treat trays are served with eight compartments, a traditionally lucky number.
Families Sweep the Dust
Rituals designed to encourage health and good fortune extend beyond the dinner table. In the lead up to the New Year, homes are cleaned from top to bottom, old things are put away and windows and doors are opened to bid farewell to the old and welcome the new. But when New Year’s Day arrives, cleaning supplies are put aside so good fortune is not accidentally swept away.
The Year Starts with a Bang
Fireworks are also used to drive away evil from the coming year. Vibrant and colourful, fireworks are central to the Chinese New Year festivities, lighting up the night sky and filling the evening with joy and wonder. Did you know that some Canadian cities have even made exceptions to their by-laws to facilitate the fireworks fun?
The Chinese New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are all about family. On the eve, loved ones gather for Reunion Dinner, where they sit at round tables to enjoy food and quality time together. In the morning, many welcome the New Year with a respectful gesture, as the younger generation serves tea to their parents and grandparents. During Chinese New Year’s Day, grownups will give red envelopes with money inside to children as a sign of good fortune and wealth.