In honor of the new year, Chinese New Year, that is, I thought it would be fun to tell you all about the traditions that my family has for the holiday. I’m only half Chinese, on my mom’s side, but this tradition is probably the biggest one my family has. Every year the Chinese New Year falls on a different day, depending on the Lunar calendar. Its usually somewhere between January to March. This is the year of the monkey.
My family has tons of traditions for the new year. I’ve only learned recently that they all have meanings. Ever since I was little, the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year, my mom would always have a stack of oranges sitting on the counter. It was like a pyramid of oranges waiting to topple over but never actually did. These represent good fortune and happiness for the new year, as well as, wealth and gold. The color red is everywhere because again it represents good fortune and happiness. We always have a large dinner at my grand parent’s house before the New Year. Only immediate family is allowed. Fun fact: Apparently since my mom married into another family, we are not supposed to go to her family’s home any more. It’s supposed to be for unmarried children and any sons and their families. Good thing we aren’t that traditional!
The entire dinner spread is full of symbolism. There are usually eight to nine dishes because eight represents wealth and nine represents long life. A whole chicken is the main dish because it represents good society, prosperity, togetherness of family and joy. The chicken in its entirety including the head, tail and feet symbolizes completeness. Besides being the most important part of the celebration, dinner is oh so delicious!
But really, the best part about Chinese New Year is getting red envelopes. Its tradition that all the kids receive a red envelope full of money from each adult, parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle. My cousins and I look forward to it every year because of this. We usually walk around the table, say “Gung Hay Fat Choi” meaning Happy New Year to each adult, and then you receive an envelope. Kicker is you have to be unmarried to be a recipient. My now married brother is so bitter. He has to give out money to us now! Insert devious smile here. I know sounds a little greedy maybe but hey its tradition, right? Did you all watch the episode of Fresh off the Boat last week about Chinese New Year. It’s exactly like that.
Hope you enjoyed getting some insight into my family and the traditions of Chinese New Year!
Gung Hay Fat Choi!
Yours Truly // Shannon