Here Comes the Year of Horse

The project “ZERO TO HERO: 30 DAYS TO A BETTER BLOG” is going strong, meanwhile the “Year of Horse” is arriving.

Here is the Chinese Lunar New Year Calendar:

http://www.chinesenewyears.info/chinese-new-year-calendar.php

(You may find your sign based on your birthdate.  I am a “Dragon”, and you are…….?)

Here are a few traditions coming with Chinese New Year.

    Firecrackers

The celebration of the Luna New Year can be dated thousands of years back in ancient China.  According to Chinese mythology, a monster would come to eat villagers at the end of the year, and needed to be scared away by fireworks, bright lights and loud noises.  

Chinese firecrackers
Chinese firecrackers

Once the new year’s bell rings, all families start the firework together to make the noise as loud as possible, and sky as bright as possible.

The noise and the light from the firework not only have scared the monster away, but also have very much scared some children as myself.  I had to hide underneath comforter with ears blocked until the firework was over.

    Dumplings

Chinese stye dumpling is called Jiaozi  (餃子), implying switching from old to new year.  It typically consists of a ground meat and / or vegetable filling wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which is then sealed by pressing the edges together or by crimping.  It is usually boiled in water until well cooked and served with a sauce mixed based on individual taste preference.

Chinese dumplings
Chinese dumplings

The main labor to make dumpling is to make their “skins”, which requires skill to roll a piece of dough into thin round shape.  I used to be an expert in dumpling skin making, but nowadays I am buying frozen ones from oriental food stores.  Even that I still remember those dumpling – making events, while everybody was staring at my busy hands and waiting for the “skins”.

There is another kind of dumpling – egg dumpling, the thinly rolled flower dough is replaced by a thin round layer of half – cooked egg.  They are very delicious but very hard to make.

Egg-skin dumplings
Egg-skin dumplings

    Red envelop 

A red envelop is a gift handed from elders to children on Chinese New Year.  It contains cash of various amounts, based on the relationship between the elders and children and how well the children behaved during the past year.

Chinese New Year Red Envelopes
Chinese New Year Red Envelopes

It is always the happiest moment for a child to get a red envelop since it can help the child realize or partially realize a dream.  Children can use the cash buy whatever have been in their mind for a long time.

Among all activities associated with Chinese New Year, family gathering should be the most precious one.  Our family used to work together to prepare the dinner at New Year’s eve.  Having not been at my hometown for the past 20 Chinese New Years, I heard that the tradition of cooking at home during New Year has long be eased by eating out at a fancy restaurant.

Regardless of the changes, a Chinese New Year brings us the first warmth and breeze of spring, and it marks the start of new lives.

Happy Chinese New Year, the Year of Horse!

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