Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade.
New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors. The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family. The presence of the ancestors is acknowledged on New Year's Eve with a dinner arranged for them at the family banquet table. The communal feast called "surrounding the stove" or weilu. It symbolizes family unity and honors the past and present generations.
Prior to New Year's Day, Chinese families decorate their living rooms with vases of pretty blossoms, platters of oranges and tangerines and a candy tray with eight varieties of dried sweet fruit. On walls and doors are profound pictures and happy wishes written on red paper. These messages sound better than the typical fortune cookie messages. For instance, "May you enjoy continuous good health" and "May the Star of Happiness, the Star of Wealth and the Star of Longevity shine on you" are especially positive sentiments.
A candy tray arranged in either a circle or octagon is called "The Tray of Togetherness," and has a dazzling array of candy to start the New Year sweetly. After taking several pieces of candy from the tray, adults place a red envelope (lai see) on the center compartment of the tray. Each item represents some kind of good fortune. Candied melon - growth and good health. Red melon seeds - dyed red to symbolize joy, happiness, truth, and sincerity. Lychee nut - strong family relationships. Cumquat - prosperity (gold). Coconut - togetherness. Peanuts - long life. Lotus seeds - many children.
|Me, at 2yrs old with a|
Chinese Outfit my
bought for me
The entire house should be cleaned before New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans, and other cleaning equipment are put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away. After New Year's Day, the floors may be swept. Beginning at the door, the dust and rubbish are swept to the middle of the parlor, then placed in the corners and not taken or thrown out until the fifth day. At no time should the rubbish in the corners be trampled upon. In sweeping, there is a superstition that if you sweep the dirt out over the threshold, you will sweep one of the family away. Also, to sweep the dust and dirt out of your house by the front entrance is to sweep away the good fortune of the family; it must always be swept inwards and then carried out, then no harm will follow. All dirt and rubbish must be taken out the back door.
In doing the research for this post, I noticed that there are a lot of similarities from food to house cleaning that are like our New Years celebration. Learning about new traditions and celebrations from different cultures make us become aware of the countries that make the United States a real melting pot.
My recipe for today is one that is fun but yet traditional for Chinese New Year. It is called by many names but mostly known by “Chinese Chop Suey Candy.”
"Chinese Chop Suey Candy"
1 cup sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
1/2 cup evaporated milk
5 cup of corn flakes
1 cup of chopped peanuts
1 cup of flaked coconut
Cook the syrup, sugar and evaporated milk to the soft ball stage. Then, add the corn flakes, nuts, and coconut. Stirring regularly Continue cooking to 240° with a Candy Thermometer. Working quickly, drop by spoonfuls on the prepared baking sheet and set aside to cool. Yield will depend on how large you make the clusters. Can also press out on a buttered 9 x 13 inch baking pan and cut into squares. Once dried and fully set, place into cupcake liners, bag individually, or break into pieces.
Tip: Spray two spoons with non-stick spray and use one to scoop and one to push off.
Till Next Time………………………………...............
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