Chinese New Year Traditions: Year of the Dragon
Chinese New Year is a time where family members celebrate, reunite, and give thanks. Each year my family goes to the temple a week before and the day of the New Year to say thank you to the gods for a healthy and prosperous year. We usually arrange dinner on New Year’s Eve and the spirits of our ancestors, together with the living, celebrate the New Year as a whole, bringing all the generations as one.
This year we celebrate the mythical creature of the Dragon. Those usually born in the year of the Dragon are sought out to be powerful and wise, with a certain aura around themselves, therefore making them very special to Chinese people.
People always ask, what do Chinese people do to prepare for the New Year? Well, it’s simple to start off on the right foot, we always clean the entire house from top-to-bottom to get rid of any dust or dirt from the old year. We fill up red envelopes with new money, typically given to children and unmarried adults (at any age).
The whole family traditionally buys brand new outfits and shoes from head-to-toe. It’s always suggested that everyone wears one item that is red, representing luck and happiness (even if it is your undergarment).
We also buy plenty of flowers (plum blossom and cherry blossom), candy, and very round oranges and tangerines. We buy poultry and fish that will be used for dinner and giving thanks to the gods. Whole chicken and fish symbolize prosperity and completeness, so you never want to cut it in pieces until it’s time to serve.
There is always a vegetarian dish “Jai” to show the gods we do not plan on slaughtering any animals unless necessary. Ingredients include black moss, dried bean curd, bamboo shoots, and vermicelli. It may sound weird but to us it’s another yummy dish!
For dessert we eat “Tang Yuan”, a delicious concoction of rice balls usually handmade are filled with sesame paste representing the roundness of the moon the completeness of your family members all together on this night. During this 15-day duration, we go to each others houses (never empty handed) with goodie bags filled with oranges, dried goods, and cookies bringing luck and joy.
From there we all sit down, drink tea, and eat AGAIN until it is time to go to the next person’s house. Chinese New Year is a time for celebration bringing luck to everyone!