Preparation for Chinese New Year Gathering

chinese new year horseIt is a custom that on Chinese New Year, Chinese families would take turns visiting each relative’s homes in order to welcome the coming NewYear by eating dinner, catching up with long distanced relatives, saying New Year greetings, and receiving red envelopes filled with money- but only for the young unmarried!  Adults and elders are the ones handing red envelopes to the younger generation with the message of warding off evil.  It is a great time together with families enjoying the night.  However, many efforts are involved beforehand to make this a smooth beginning of welcoming the New Year.

Preparations for this traditional holiday would include planning the food dishes to be served at dinner along with decorating the house with fresh flowers.  A few days before, families will visit their local markets to search for good ingredients that can be cooked into a delicious feast.  Ingredients are chosen with meaningful messages of fortune, wish, wealth, and abundance in foods like fish, spring rolls, noodles, rice cakes, and roasted duck.  Fresh flowers, tangerines, oranges, and candies are placed at home for a feeling of warmth and sweetness.  Newly bloomed flowers are bought in order to mark a sense of a new beginning as a New Year is approaching.  The words of tangerines and oranges have a pronunciation close to the word of luck and wealth.  Candies are displayed in circular trays at home for guests to eat as a symbol of sweetness and bonding between families and friends.

Beside food preparations, members of each household will clean and tidy up the house.  Sweeping away the old dust represents getting rid of the past or any bad luck lingering and welcoming a new start in a clean environment.  Welcoming the New Year also includes parents purchasing new clothes for their children to be fresh and clean.  Parents will shop for clothes that are bright and vibrant in color, and warm in texture for themselves and their loved ones.  This image is important when welcoming elders on the special day with New Year greetings for a prosperous year or a year with plenty of luck and good health.  When the new clothes are worn at the dinner gathering, this signifies a fresh start and respect to their guests as they are taking care of themselves and their homes for a wonderful incoming year.

Behind all the fun and festive events for the first night of the Chinese New Year, families work busily together in preparing to make it happen.  Mothers are going to the closest markets to buy the top quality ingredients, the freshest flowers, and the tastiest candies for their home and guests.  Fathers and children are also helping at home by cleaning and getting the house ready for the guests of this fun filled night.

Submitted by Irene Lam

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