The festive fireworks have died down, everyone has already exchanged gifts, and some even managed to remove the Christmas tree. But this does not mean that the New Year mood has disappeared: the celebration of the Chinese New Year will help prolong it. In 2022, it falls on February 1st.
History and Traditions of Chinese New Year
In China, the holiday is called not only the New Year, but also the Spring Festival. It marks the beginning of a new stage – the awakening of nature, the earth, the sprouts that it keeps. Unofficially, the holiday is also called the lunar new year: it is timed to coincide with the winter new moon, which indicates the completion of a full lunar cycle.
The holiday also has a mythical explanation. The Chinese believe that in ancient times the monster Nian lived on their land – a terrible animal that resembled a half-lion-half-dragon with horns on its head. Nian destroyed entire villages, kept the people in fear. Then one of the wise men decided to talk to the monster. According to legend, the sage shamed the beast, saying that one should measure one’s strength with equals, and not with defenseless ones. Since that time, every year people “donated” an animal to Nian – there are 12 in total: a rat (mouse), a bull, a rabbit (cat), a tiger (just a symbol of 2022), a snake, a dragon, a horse, a goat, a rooster, a dog, a monkey , pig. They are the patrons of each year according to the Chinese calendar. Nian liked to fight smart, cunning, hardy, ferocious animals – he left the villages alone. In gratitude for the reigning peace, the peasants began to celebrate a holiday every year, which became a symbol of renewal, prosperity, good luck, and happiness.
In China, most traditions are associated with Nian, without which it is difficult to imagine the Chinese New Year. Let’s get to know them better.
New Year traditions
It is customary to celebrate the New Year with the family: the Chinese, scattered across different provinces, strive at all costs to get home to their parents, family, and loved ones. And in order for the New Year to bring good luck and keep Nian out of the house, it is important to observe traditions.
Decoration of streets, houses
The scary beast Nian does not like the overly active, even aggressive red color, so everything is decorated in this shade for the New Year. Especially the Chinese love to decorate their houses with red lanterns. This is a deeply symbolic item: red represents good luck, protection from evil spirits, and a flashlight symbolizes peace, prosperity, connection with relatives who have gone to another world. Also, next to the doors, inscriptions are hung with the wishes of happiness and kindness, which are made on red paper.
By the way, the influence of red does not end with the decoration of the home. It is believed that red and gold must be present in the table setting. It’s also important to wear something red.
Nian has another weak point: he is afraid of loud sounds, bright lights, so not a single New Year’s Eve in China is complete without fireworks. The louder and brighter the fireworks, the happier and more successful the year will be.
By the way, the Chinese New Year is a very noisy celebration, as numerous fireworks are complemented by explosions of firecrackers and car horns. This is how the Chinese say “goodbye” to the old year and “hello” to the new year.
The Chinese are practical people, so they approach gifts purely rationally. The best gift, according to the Chinese, is money. They are presented in a special red envelope called hongbao. Thus, they congratulate relatives, relatives, even subordinates. Together with the red envelope, the gifted person receives not only money, but also wishes for success, good luck in business, and prosperity.
The Chinese also have other traditions related to money. So, for example, dexterous housewives put a coin along with the filling in one of the jiaozi dumplings. The one who “got” the coin will be rich in the new year.
Do not assume that in China, money is the only acceptable gift option. The Chinese are also happy to give each other delicacies, homemade cakes. And, of course, presents should be wrapped in red paper.
Opening windows, doors
When the hands of the clock begin to measure the time of the new year, the Chinese wide open windows and doors. It is believed that in this way they release all troubles, troubles, sorrows from the house and invite happiness, love, prosperity to the house.
Of course, imagine celebrating the Chinese New Year without traditional dishes just impossible.
Chinese Recipes for the New Year
Dishes for the Chinese New Year include foods familiar to this Asian people. Do not forget about savory sauces, unusual combinations of ingredients or non-standard cooking methods. So, what is served on New Year’s Eve?
The words “fish” and “excess” in Chinese are pronounced similarly, so no New Year, which should bring prosperity and wealth, is complete without fish dishes. Moreover, the Chinese prepare fish in different ways: guests can enjoy both salads and cold cuts, as well as baked fish. In special honor crucian, carp and catfish.
These dumplings are molded by hand by all family members on the eve of the holiday. And at the moment of adding the filling, the housewives show originality and hide various additives in the filling. These are not only coins, which we have already mentioned, but also peanuts or a white thread (symbolize longevity) or chestnut (predicts the birth of a son).
The shape of the dumpling resembles a horn. In China, it is believed that when a person “folds” a dumpling (takes it by two “tails”), he seems to “pack” good luck, health, happiness.
Pay attention to the filling: we most often use meat for it. And the Chinese have a more multi-component approach: not only pork is added to jiaozi, but also parsley, soy sauce and even Chinese cabbage. These ingredients make the filling more juicy.
Traditional dumplings can be cooked in different ways: boiled, fried in butter or steamed.
The recipe for this salad for the New Year 2022, no doubt, is known to every Chinese housewife. This dish has its own symbolism: it is believed that the one who ate yu-shen on the festive night will be successful each of the 365 days of the year.
The salad has another feature – it can literally consist of anything! Indeed, everyone adds what they like to yu-shen, and the number of ingredients in some recipes exceeds 30! And, of course, each product has its sacred meaning. Do you need luck? Add carrots. Want more money? Put red fish in the salad. Do you wish yourself health, youth? Then there should be a radish in your plate. It is not at all necessary to spread the entire salad on your dish – everyone has the right to choose only those products that he likes.
Avocados are also added to the salad for delicate oily notes, cucumber for freshness, bell pepper and pickled ginger for spicy spiciness, grapefruit for bittersweet accents. The sauce includes lemon juice, olive oil, plum wine.
The Chinese choose mainly pork, chicken or duck. The simplest dish is pork in sweet and sour sauce, which allows you to feel the true extravaganza of taste, presented by a combination of Asian spices.
The recipe for chicken in Chinese is also popular, which symbolizes renewal, rebirth. It also uses many spices: cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ginger, pepper, star anise, fennel.
This is a great appetizer option. The Chinese also eat marble eggs on other days, but, nevertheless, this dish is a must for the New Year’s table: eggs tinted with tea and spices symbolize gold bars.
Preparing the dish is very easy. First, the eggs are boiled until cooked, and then lightly hit the shell to get cracks. Next, the eggs are laid out in a saucepan with black tea and spices, brought to a boil, boiled for about half an hour. And when you remove the shell, you will see an egg with fancy brown-gold stains.
Sweet is another mandatory component of the traditional New Year’s feast. It can be rice cookies or rice cake, popular fortune cookies, fried ice cream or caramelized apples. To begin with, apples are literally fried in batter, and then dipped in caramel (butter, sugar), effectively “powdered” with sesame seeds.
Many housewives treat their relatives to nyangao – cupcakes with a good message of flying high, reaching high peaks in the new year. Most often they are prepared from a minimum of ingredients – cane sugar, glutinous rice (marks the “gluing” of all members of one family), as well as eggs, milk, water.
In addition to the main dishes on the New Year’s table, there are a lot of vegetables (eggplants, cucumbers, peppers, carrots), do not forget about noodles. Of the fruits, mango and pineapple are most valued – they are used as ingredients for many meat and fish dishes, salads.
You will find many traditional recipes for the Chinese New Year and other holidays on the Koolinar.ru portal. Get inspired by the photo, follow the step-by-step instructions and delight your loved ones with original culinary masterpieces!