Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year!
Today is the first day of the Chinese lunar new year. Out with the dragon, in with the snake! The weeks leading up to Chinese New Year have been filled with flowers, fruits, candies, orange trees and endless strings of Chinese lanterns. The celebration hit fever pitch last eve, as families and friends joined together for food, fun and the expected ebullience of ringing in a new year.
Last night we enjoyed our first Chinese New Year feast ever! What an honor to be invited to partake in the tradition of a “Reunion Dinner”. We started the celebration with Yusheng, or Prosperity Toss. Colorful shredded vegetables, sauces and spices are piled on a plate at the center of the table, then everyone collectively uses their chopsticks to dig in and toss the ingredients together in a melange of flavors. Dinner was an unbelievably delicious parade of homemade pork, shrimp and rice dishes (WOW, thanks M&G!) enjoyed by our party of eight. At midnight we heard the booms and saw the sparkle of fireworks over Chinatown.
Chinese New Year has many traditions and symbols associated with it. Cleaning house in the days leading to the new year sweeps away the bad luck before the new year arrives. Paper cutouts, pineapples and auspicious phrases decorate doors and walls. Candies, puddings and mashus (squishy glutinous rice treats) are given as little gifts and shared by all. Mandarin oranges and orange trees are everywhere as symbols of good fortune, and everyone very carefully chooses the best branch or tree they can find. The Lion Dance, with colorful furry costumes, chases away bad luck and evil spirits. Debts are paid and hongbao, red envelopes with money (even numbers only), are given as blessings of good luck, good health and wealth in the new year.
Celebrations continue for 15 days! Here are a handful of photos from Ssssssssingapore’s Chinatown on the eve before Chinese New Year’s Eve. Xin Nian Kuai Le!