Chinese are rich in culture. They have a lot of superstitious beliefs and new year traditions. Chinese New Year is a huge event for all Chinese people including my family. The festival begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with the Lantern Festival which is on the fifteenth day. The entire attention of the household was fixed on the celebration. During this time, my parent’s business life came nearly to a stop. Home and family were the principal focuses.
During Chinese New year, big family reunions are very significant because we have quality time together with our entire family, sharing joy and good times. It is the Chinese New Year tradition that every family gives its house a thorough cleaning, hoping to sweep away all the ill-fortune there may have been in the family to make way for the wishful in-coming good luck. People normally decorate their doors and window-panes using red color ornaments. They decorate the doors and windows with paper-cuts and couplets with the very popular theme of happiness, wealth, and longevity.
Offering various kind of foods at the altar of ancestors was the normal things to do during Chinese New year in the past. Moreover, the most significant part during Chinese New Year celebration is none other than the Chinese New Year eve. The night before the Chinese New Year are the time when my extended family gathers together at my grandparents house. Together, we decorate our grandparent house with red color and we put oranges or tangerines around the entire house. Oranges and tangerines make us think about at Chinese New Year celebration because both of the fruits represent prosperity.
The luxury dinner is the one of the most important rituals during New Year eve. It normally takes several hours or several days for the family members to prepare the dishes. Roast duck, crispy baby pig, fried noodle, steamed whole fish and Yuan Sheng are the dishes that we usually have for our dinner. It takes about eleven hours to cook a delicious roast duck. The duck was seasoned with special spices from China and left for seven and a half hours. Subsequently, it will be grill in the oven for three and a half hours. Similar to roast duck, crispy baby pig is also seasoned with the same spice, but grilled for a longer period.
The grilling process takes about six to eight hours depending on the size of the swine. In addition, fried noodles also should be served because it represents a long life. The Chinese believed that if they eat noodle during the new year eve, their age will be increased by the gods. The grand dish, Yuan Sheng, is a typical Chinese salad and consists of several meats and raw vegetable. Each and every ingredient in Yuan Sheng represent something. For instance, glass noodle resembles long life. Ffried wonton skin represents gold wealthy. Carrot represents prosperity. Fish resembles abundance. Pig meat resembles luckiness, etc.
Basically, the dish serves on a humongous plate where every family member can reach the plate using their chopsticks. Lastly, the fish was seasoned with soy sauce, green onions, and garlic. The word for fish, “Yu,” sounds like the words both for wish and abundance, and serving a fish at the end of the meal symbolizes a wish for abundance in the upcoming year. After the many hours that were taken to prepare the big feast, our entire family members sit together at the dining table waiting for the clock to hit eight. Chinese prefers to start the dinner at eight o’clock because they believe that the number eight may bring luck to the family.
The dinner begins with the mixing of Yuan Sheng (Chinese Salad), every family member shall stands and mixes the salad together using every individual chopstick. This is a very important ritual due to the time spent together while mixing the salad. During the dinner, we should forgive and forget all the mistakes of others did to us in the past. All that we know are only happiness and joy. After the serving of salad, we moved on to the main course part, where the oldest family member (usually grandparents) will cut the roast duck and crispy pig baby. It was such an honor for the family member who cuts the crispy pig and the roast.
The typical Chinese family usually let the eldest do cutting ritual in order to respect them. The dish will be eaten with white rice or fried noodle. At the end of the last dish, steam whole fish will served and everyone should eat it because fish symbolizes a wish for abundance. Last but not the least, the dinner was closed with sweet desserts such as black sesame soup and red bean sticky rice cake. After dinner, it is time for the whole family to stay awake for the night while having fun playing cards, board games or even watching television programs related to he occasion. It is also a tradition to keep every light on for the whole night. At midnight, fireworks and firecrackers will be lit. It is a Chinese tradition to light up fireworks and firecracgiminkers in order to driven away the evil spirits. Early in the next morning, children quickly greet their parents and receive their presents in terms of cash wrapped up in a red envelope. Then, the family goes out to say greetings from door to door, first to their relatives and then to their neighbors.
Several days following the New Year’s Day, people continue to visit each other, with a great deal of gifts exchanging. This Chinese New Year tradition is a great way to reconcile forgetting all old grudges. The atmosphere is permeated with warmth and friendliness. Chinese New Year is a big event for my family. We gather around and have fun with our family while forgetting about the past. The traditions made our relationships between family members become stronger. The New Year is a brand year where we start a brand new story and a new adventure.