Traditions of Lunar New Year | How to celebrate the occasion with @thislifewithsarah
February 12th is officially the start of the Lunar New Year in 2021.
It’s called the Lunar New Year as it marks the first day of the new moon (lunar) on the lunisolar (sun/moon) calendar which is traditionally followed by a number of East Asian countries.
The Lunar New Year precedes an additional 14 days of celebrations, within this extended festival are various different celebrations - one for each day.
Although it’s these 15 days that are most commonly celebrated, the actual number of days in the Lunar New Year is 23 - starting on the first day of the new moon.
Most people around the world will be more familiar with the term ‘Chinese New Year’, however, China is just one of a number of countries that marks the start of the lunar year and celebrations vary slightly from place to place depending on its unique traditions.
In advance of Lunar New Year, lifestyle blogger Sarah Li - a mum of 3 based in London talks us through some of the ways in which she'll be celebrating as her family follow the traditions of Chinese New Year.
Sarah says ....
Lunar New Year is a celebration that lasts over several days for us. As a family, it means new beginnings and yummy food, blessings and good luck. Some popular traditions would be to clean out rubbish before New Year’s Eve comes to signify getting rid of any bad luck in the home. No cleaning is allowed from New Year’s Day. Cutting hair is also forbidden on New Year’s Day as hair sounds the same fortune.
The Chinese Zodiac is made up of 12 different animals - this year it’s the year of the Ox. It’s believed that the animal associated with each individual's year of birth determines a lot about their personality traits and fortune.
Happy Lunar New Year! 恭喜發財
Preparing for Lunar New Year
For us, we get the children involved in crafts to prepare for the new year. They make their own flowers to decorate the table, they write their own Fortune Banners - the red banners that you often see with Chinese characters on are blessings to welcome in the New Year.
We will also give the children red pockets - traditionally it is filled with money and given by married elders to those younger and unmarried. We fill ours with prayers and blessings inside as the children are still young.
It's all about the outfits ...
Of course, we will dress in our best to celebrate on the day. We chose smart suits for the boys and a dress for Phoebe. Phoebe has a beautiful satin red dress by Le Mu that has gold roses embroidered on it. The red and gold are perfect for Lunar New Year.
Nathanael has a beautiful red tartan suit from Romano. I chose red or gold pieces for all of the children in keeping with the theme, so Theo also has a gold satin waistcoat, with a tiger blazer.
I chose beautiful gold leather shoes for Phoebe, Nathanael has smart black loafers, whilst Theo has classic leather shoes. They are definitely looking smart and well presented to celebrate the occasion.
Sarah's Picks ...
A Feast of Food
Our table is abundant with symbolic and delicious foods.
Spring rolls - they symbolise wealth as their shape is often similar to gold bars.
Sweet and sour pork - the Cantonese word for sour sounds like the word for Grandchild so it is often very popular with families hoping for grandchildren.
Steamed whole fish - the Cantonese word for fish sounds like abundance and wish so it symbolises abundance for the New Year. The fish would be served while with the head and tail to symbolise a good beginning and ending.
White cut chicken - serving a whole chicken symbolises wholeness and Prosperity. One of my favourite dishes that we eat often, the chicken is poached and then plunged in iced water and usually served with minced green onions and ginger.
Longevity noodles symbolise longevity and they are never cut because of this. It is a simple recipe as to not break the noodles.
Nian Gao - sticky cake, the sweetness symbolises a rich sweet life and the round shape symbolises family togetherness. It is so simple to make and cook and is usually pan fried with egg to eat! We’ve gotten through three already!
All images by @thislifewithsarah
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