Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, is observed in many Asian countries and communities around the world. The festival begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is based on both the moon phase and the time of the solar year. This year, the celebration will begin on Saturday, January 28. The traditional lunar calendar is associated with the 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac. Each animal represents a year in the 12-year cycle, beginning on Chinese New Year’s Day. This year, 2017 is the year of the rooster.
As a preparation to the Chinese New Year people tend to clean the house and display traditional New Year decorations. Part of decorating the house is to provide good luck to the year ahead. The color red is the main color for the Chinese New Year festival as it is believed to be an auspicious color. Since 2017 is the year of the rooster you will also see rooster related decorations.
When it comes to food, certain food is consumed during the festival due to symbolic meaning. For instance, fish is a must as fish is believed to bring a surplus of money and good luck in the coming year. Other traditional foods include dumplings, spring rolls, rice cakes and sweet rice bowls.
Fortunately for me, I have friends who are from China who continue to celebrate the Chinese New Year. This year we celebrated with traditional dumplings, spring rolls and a hot pot. Incase you are not familiar, a hot pot – also known as a Chinese Fondue – consists of a broth that sits in the middle of the table. Raw ingredients such as beef, shrimp, mushrooms, tofu, etc. sit besides the pot until you are ready to cook it. The nice part about a hot pot is it great on a cold day but it is also extremely healthy. You use herbs and spices to flavor the broth and then you boil the rest of the ingredients. Once the food is cooked you take it out of the boiling broth and put it over sticky rice. To add even more depth of flavor there are dipping sauces made of sesame sauce, chili oil, soy sauce, garlic sauce, vinegar, and more.
The important thing to note is that the United States of American is a melting pot of cultures. When working in nutrition it is important to be conscientious and knowledgeable about how culture influences food consumption. So wear red, eat some fish and have a wonderful Chinese New Year!