Chinese New Year as I know it...
I grew up in a sub-culture Indonesian Chinese family, where Chinese New Year is still a huge celebration for a family reunion with over 30 cousins and 16 aunties and uncles on my grandmother's mansion. Years have gone by that that is the rituals that I know and the food that we eat. Without passing the usual awkward conversations that you have with relatives once a year. When you are single they would ask 'oh where's your boyfriend/girlfriend', once you get married they will ask 'oh when are you going to have kids' and so on.
It's a lot like a Christmas ambiance with all the families together but in a Chinese way.
Chinese community has a lot of their astronomy and rituals for each element of the year.
After moving several countries and learning how the different ways of Chinese from mainland China and the sub-culture Chinese have tweaked the tradition along the way, I'd like to share a tradition from a place once I called home for 12 years of my life, Singapore.
Lohei is tossing of prosperity Chinese New Year Salad. It consists of a rainbow of ingredient which represents health, wealth, luck, prosperity, money, love and all the good things we all wish for in a new beginning.
I grabbed the list of common ingredients' from Singapore's top food blogger, Ladyironchef:
Carrots – Represents good luck.
Green Radish – Represents eternal youth.
White Radish – Represents good job opportunities in the coming year.
Raw Fish – symbolises abundance and prosperity.Pomelo – Represents luck.
Crushed Peanuts – Is a sign that your home will be filled with many valuable possessions.
Sesame Seeds – Represent the hope that your business will flourish.
Golden Crackers – Symbolises wealth.
Plum Sauce – A key component that binds the salad together, it represents stronger ties among family and friends.
Pepper & Cinnamon Powder – signify the wish for wealth Oil – Often drizzled onto the salad in a circular motion rather than poured over. This is to symbolise that money will come from all directions.
The plate is placed in the centre of the table and each ingredient is added and tossed with a ritual of spells. Read the full article here if you are curious!
Last night, celebrating a much more town down version of Chinese New Year with a friend and the kids, I decided to create my version with whatever I can find on the fridge, a little represenation of the original version. A little exposure for the kids on cultural things people do in Chinese New Year period.
More than the symbolic value of it, I truly enjoy the taste of mixture from this Chinese New Year Salad, among many other dishes that I miss from Singapore. Here's a little page put together by Amazing Oriental on some recipes of Singapore's' dishes like laksa, curry, fishball noodles, etc.
Happy Chinese New Year all! Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! 新年快乐!