I find a fun way to become a little familiar with other cultures is to share in their significant celebrations. Did you know this year’s Chinese New Year 2016 celebration begins on February 8th and will usher in the Year of the Monkey?
The personality of the Monkey
People born in the Year of the Monkey are characterised as lively, quick-witted, curious, innovative and mischievous, but it is also believed to be one of the most unlucky years in the Chinese calendar.
The general image of people in this zodiac sign is of always being smart, clever and intelligent, especially in their career and wealth.
In addition, their gentleness and honesty bring them an everlasting love life. Although they were born with enviable skills, they still have several shortcomings, such as an impetuous temper and a tendency to look down upon others.
- Strengths: sociable, innovative, enthusiastic, self-assured
- Weaknesses: suspicious, cunning, selfish, arrogant, jealous
This year, embrace your inner monkey and swing head first into the Chinese New Year. Take the lead from the animal of the year – a fun little guy that’s notoriously mischievous, clever and curious – and seize the opportunity to explore an unfamiliar cultural tradition or a new take on an old holiday favourite. To help you on your journey to discovery, the team at Atlantic Superstore® and No Frills® has put together the top five things you may or may not know about Chinese New Year.
Five Facts About Chinese New Year
1.) Snacks are Symbolic
Many people are aware that food and drink play an important role in the celebration, but did you know that certain ingredients have special significance? Kumquat fruits are popular, for example, because their name in Cantonese and Mandarin sounds similar to the words for gold and good luck. Mandarins, too, are thought to bring about luck and good fortune.
2.) Meals are Served in Style
Food preparation is important too. Chicken and fish are often served whole, with the head and tail, to symbolize a good year from beginning to end. Noodles are made and served as long as possible to represent a long and healthy life. Leafy greens such as lettuce and bok choy are considered lucky foods to have at the new year’s table as they symbolize the fulfilment of wealth for the year ahead. Leeks are also a favourite dish – cut to resemble coins, they are believed to encourage a year of wealth.
3.) Families Sweep the Dust – and Decorate!
Rituals designed to encourage health and good fortune extend beyond the dinner table. Traditions vary from region to region, but in the lead-up to the New Year, many homes are cleaned from top to bottom, old things are put away and windows and doors are opened to bid farewell to the old and welcome the new. But when New Year’s Day arrives, cleaning supplies are put aside so good fortune is not accidentally swept away. Decorations are also important, especially at the entrance to a home where red banners with good luck messages are hung to greet guests.
4.) The Year Starts with a Bang
Fireworks are also used to drive away evil from the coming year. Vibrant and colourful, fireworks are central to the Chinese New Year festivities, lighting up the night sky and filling the evening with joy and wonder.
5.) Families Gather
The Chinese New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are all about family. On the eve, loved ones gather for Reunion Dinner, where they sit at round tables to enjoy food and quality time together. In the morning, many welcome the New Year with a respectful gesture, as the younger generation serves tea to their parents and grandparents. During Chinese New Year’s Day, grownups will give red envelopes with money inside to children as a sign of good fortune and wealth. Other gifts are also given to family and friends, especially foods such as candy, nuts and fruits which have different symbolic meanings like wealth, unity and fertility.
- 1 head lettuce, rinse and drip dry, cut 1” off head and into 2 halves vertically for easy peeling
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil
- 6 button or brown mushroom, small-diced
- 1 can (228 mL) T&T water chestnut, drained and diced
- Pinch of sea salt
- 2 cups barbecued duck or barbecued pork, diced
- 2 cups PC Cooked Peeled Wild Atlantic Cold Water Shrimp, diced
- ½ cup crushed T&T unsalted cashew nuts (or peanuts)
- ½ cup Hoisin sauce
- 2 Tbsp T&T Teriyaki sauce
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- Peel off lettuce leaves which should be palm-shaped and stack them on a plate. Reserve small leaves for other use.
- Heat oil in pan on high. Add mushroom, stir well. Add water chestnut. Stir and cook for 90 seconds, add salt, mix well and place in a bowl.
- Return wok to stove, add duck, stir and reheat on medium high for 20 - 30 seconds, place in a bowl.
- Reheat shrimp in wok for 20 - 30 seconds, place in a bowl.
- Place crushed nuts in a bowl.
- To make a wrap sauce, mix Hoisin, Teriyaki sauce, water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil and empty into a sauce bowl.
- Place lettuce and all the bowls of ready-to-eat ingredients on the table for individuals to fill their own lettuce wraps.
- Enjoy with wrap sauce.
Embrace your inner monkey and satisfy your curiosity for something new with this fun family-friendly recipe from the team at Atlantic Superstore® and No Frills®.
Lettuce is considered a lucky food for Chinese New Year as it symbolizes the fulfillment of wealth in the coming year.
How do you usually celebrate the Chinese New Year?
I was born in the Year of the Rooster, which Chinese Zodiac sign are you?