Known also as the Lunar New year, or the Spring Festival, it’s the most important of the many Chinese festivals and can trace its origins back into the time of the Bronze Age.
The idea started off as a date that marked winter sacrifices to gods and ancestors, a pagan festival that brought people together at the turning of the year. One idea was that a mythical beast called Nian needed simultaneously to be scared away from peoples’ houses (hence the firecrackers) and appeased (hence the spare food for him). Slowly, it developed from being a religious festival to a cultural one, during which families who are often far-flung in modern China are able to return to their families for a holiday.
Chinese New Year is a time of gifts, the most traditional of all being the little red envelope (hongbao) that normally contains a small amount of money. Fruit baskets, especially with oranges, are a popular choice of present, as well, or tobacco or alcohol, or anything to make the party go well. But there are also certain things that you should never give, like sharp objects (which cut off the relationship), shoes (evil), clocks (bad luck), cut flowers (for funerals), umbrellas (signify a break-up) and anything containing the number ‘4’.
Chinese New Year is obviously a time for feasting as well, and you have any number of wonderful recipes to trawl from. Traditionally, fish leads to an increase in prosperity, as do dumplings and Spring rolls, whereas sweet rice balls help with family harmony, and noodles lead to longevity. Jeremy Pang, founder and creative genius behind Covent Garden’s famous School of Wok, can share any number of recipes with you, or even help you learn to cook them online.
2021 is the Year of the Ox (strong, diligent, reliable and dependent); after such a difficult 2020 (Year of the rat…quick-witted, resourceful, versatile and kind), we could all do with some reliability. Other signs (all of which are linked to years, as opposed to the western horoscope which is linked to 30 day periods), include tiger, dragon, horse, monkey, rooster, snake, rabbit, dog, pig and goat. You can look up your own birth year’s sign by clicking this link.
This year, Chinese New year takes place on the 12th February, and we are going to be filling the two weeks between now and then with great recipe ideas and competitions.
Why not have a quick look at our School of Wok range of cookware and accessories to help release the inner chef in you.
School of wok range
Kung Hei Fat Choy!!