How are you celebrating Chinese New Year 2014? This is the year of the Horse.
The New Year’s Day in China (equivalent to the year in Chinese) is this Friday, January 31, but in the new year is celebrated over multiple days. It starts from the last year of the Chinese Year up to the end of the Lantern Festival 15 days later. This gives you plenty of time to still join in the traditions of gathering with your family, cleaning out the old (including cleaning your house!), and doing a few things to hopefully usher in a healthy, wealthy, new year in.
I can’t say that the cleaning my house portion is my favorite part- it’s definitely the eating certain food that are symbols of health and wealth, often because they look/sound in Chinese like words linked with health and wealth.
Every year there are two that I always do- and so far it certainly hasn’t hurt! So here are my traditional Chinese New Year Foods…
1. Eat Dumplings.
Dumplings are symbols of wealth, because traditional Chinese money were gold and silver ingots. This is pretty easy to do- there are so many places that offer dumplings, even food carts and restaurants that aren’t Chinese food specific. Mmm just look at these photos of dumplings from my past makes me want dumplings now. Particularly these ones, which are endearingly chubby.
2. Eat Noodles
Long noodles represent a nice long life, so when eating noodles for this time of year means ordering the longest noodles you can. Other than that though, they can be any kind of noodles you want- flour, rice, egg, wheat, etc. Again, I am sort of lenient on where the noodles come from and they don’t need to be Chinese- which explains below the photo from Boke Bowl which specializes in ramen with fancy upgrades like the fried chicken and pork belly as you see below, the chinese pulled noodle specialist such as Noodle House Food Cart, or by simply rocking noodles with garlic like what you see below from Star Noodle in Maui.
There are more foods to eat- check out this cool infographic from Steamy Kitchen and this 10 Good Luck Foods list from Chow.com for more foods to eat- and she also provides recipes to try! This year besides the dumplings and noodles, I am adding in cauliflower/broccoli for blossoming riches, and also shrimp for good times and lettuce for rising fortune (in Chinese the word for lettuce sounds like wealth).
In general, I think simple stir fried vegetables are also a popular part of New Years eatings because not only are they healthy, but because of the crunch sound they make associated with money, and help start the new year by not taking the life of an animal to start off the year. It also balances out your meal of dumplings and noodles :X. Your dessert can be oranges and tangerines.
The Chinese New Year Lantern viewings at the local Lan Su Chinese Gardens are offering a lot of activities- they sold out last year, so you might want to buy your advance tickets now! Their festivities include a dragon and lion dance of course, but also martial arts demonstrations, miniature horses, calligraphy demonstrations, a Chinese Wishing Tree, and with the Lantern Festival lots of lanterns! Did I mention little miniature horses? Inside of the gardens they have a tea house where you can enjoy a selection of various Chinese teas and snacks (and hey, maybe get some radish cake, rice cakes, etc. to get your prosperous New Year’s eating in!)
In addition, on Feb 1, at the Oregon Convention Center there is also the Portland Chinese New Year Cultural Fair that includes more cultural performances. And food too.
I wish you a happy Chinese New Year! Tell me how you plan to celebrate it!?