28th
Jan
2017

Posted in Kafevend Blog

Year of the rooster


New year celebrations have been and gone for us, but for the Chinese they are just beginning. Their new year in 2017 is today, in fact. We always like to know more about the festivities that go on around the world, so brew up your best lapsang souchong or puerh tea and join us as we explore the Chinese New Year!

Going through a phase


First off then: why is Chinese New Year on a different date to our own? This is because the traditional Chinese calendar is a lunisolar one, taking dates based on the phases of the moon as well as the time of the solar year. We are no strangers to this either, as Easter and its associated celebrations and feasts are based on the same style of calendar. Like Easter then, the date of the Chinese New Year shifts every year, based on the new moon that falls anywhere between 21 January and 20 February.

In another parallel to Easter, there are various other days linked to Chinese New Year itself which fall on either side of it. Laba holiday is on the eighth day of the lunar month prior to the new year, where Laba porridge is made and served. The first bowl is offered to the family's ancestors as well as the household deities before everyone else tucks in. The day before the new year, it is traditional in China to scour your house clean from top to bottom- the belief is that this sweeps away the bad luck of the old year in preparation for good luck coming up in the next. These are just the days preceding the new year- there are another fifteen that follow it, but we just don't have the space for all of that!

Sounds like food


As we've already hinted at, there are various foodstuffs that are traditionally eaten around Chinese New Year. One of the main meals is the reunion dinner, eaten on New Year's Eve. There are several dishes including pork, chicken and fish, as well as a communal hot pot. Other, rarer meats are typically served too, including duck and seafood such as lobster. Fish of some sort is nearly always present in order that some can be left over, a tradition established thanks to a homophone: "may there be surpluses every year" sounds the same as "may there be fish every year"!

Interestingly, there are many foods eaten around this time that are popular as their names are homophones for something good. Mandarin oranges sound the same as luck, leeks sound like calculating (good for your wallet!), and a peculiar ingredient in a popular vegetarian dish- an algae the name of which is pronounced fat choy- sounds like prosperity. On that note, we wish a prosperous year of the rooster to you!

References:

Chinese New Year

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