Food and other Things You May Not Know about the Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Food
Traditional Chinese New Year Food is a symbol of prosperity, good luck, health and long life for everyone at the table. Each and every food, either by its appearance or the pronunciation of its name, symbolizes age old Chinese beliefs. Traditional Chinese New Year Food like dumplings, spring Rolls, chicken or may be a whole fish wishes good things for the coming year. Given below are some of the Traditional Chinese New Year.

Chinese are known to be an ardent lover of food, especially good food. Whenever some one talks about the Chinese food then only few things like fried rice and chicken balls come to our minds. But there is a lot more to the Chinese food than these few things known to us. You can find a whole lot of different varieties of Chinese dishes ranging from region to region. "Eating is the utmost important part of life", the great Confucius once uttered these words. Chinese people have been influenced by these words to a great extent. May be that is why the Chinese food recipes are prepared keeping in mind the happiness, harmony, prosperity and welfare of a person. Most of the Chinese food is cooked with a combination of meat and vegetables, so the Chinese dishes contain fewer calories.

Northern Cuisine
The northern part of China includes places like Beijing, the capital city of China. In the northern part of China, wheat forms an important part of the Chinese food. Thus you will find many dishes having wheat as their ingredients like pancakes, noodles, dumplings and steamed breads. Another favorite Chinese dish of the people residing in this part of the world is the Beijing Duck. Many Chinese dishes make use of the seafood like shark's fin, scallops, oysters porgy and conch.

The Cantonese Cuisine
The Cantonese cuisine is known for importance given by it to the maintenance of the natural flavor, texture and color of the ingredients of the food. One major ingredient of the Cantonese cuisine is the sauce like plum sauce, oyster sauce and the shrimp paste. The Cantonese are said to have a fascination for anything that moves like snakes, weasels, dogs, cats, pangolins and the bear paws.

Eastern Cuisine
The eastern part of China includes areas, which are fertile, and hence the eastern cuisine is enriched with the use of seafood and the vegetables. Typical Chinese food in this part comprise of the crab-roe dumplings, Mandarin fish, deep-fried whitebait and Lion's Head meatballs. Another specialty of the eastern cuisine is the Beggar's Chicken, which is prepared by stuffing the chicken with pork, vegetables and spices and then cooking the chicken in clay.

Chinese New Year Superstitions
Chinese New Year is swathed in traditions and age old superstitions. Though China boasts of its high tech developments, the most popular and celebrated festival of China owes its origin to ancient customs. Chinese New Year Superstitions connote the ancient Chinese belief systems, which again refers to how people believed and behaved in those days. Chinese New Year is the time of the year when folks leave their work and head for their home to have a gala time with near and dear ones. But in the midst of celebrations and merriment lies a series of colorful and vivid Chinese New Year Superstitions.

The Chinese New Year is also known as Yuan Tan by the Chinese. Yuan Tan is considered as the new beginning which literally means let bygones be bygones. This special moment is commemorated on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Preparations for the Chinese New Year tend to begin a month from the date of the Chinese New Year. A huge clean-up is to be done before the New Year. Folks clean the house from top to bottom, to sweep away the dust of the gone year. They also give a new coat of red paint on the doors and windowpanes. As, the color red is considered lucky and is believe that it scares the evil. The Chinese New Year is also a time to settle old debts. In ancient China creditors were allowed to pursue debtors. It is believed if by the New Year a debtor has not paid, he will be shamed as well as his family.

It is believed that on the Chinese New Year's eve, Chinese New Year God ascends to heaven to pay their respects and also report on the household chores to the Jade Emperor, the supreme Taoist deity. A week before the New Year, the kitchen god, which watches the family, is offered Chinese New Year cake so that he submits a favorable report about the family in the heaven. The kitchen god is burnt so that he ascends to heaven and meets the supreme deity. Sometimes honey is also offered to make sure he cannot open his mouth. Sometimes folks make a paper chariot is and burn it with the kitchen god. For almost a week the god's shelf stays empty, and then the head of the family makes a new god from rice paper and paint it with vivid colors.

Chinese people believe that staying awake all night on New Year's Eve would make their aged parents to live a longer and healthier life. Thus a common activity followed on the eve of Chinese New Year is to keep the lights on the entire night. It is also seen as a pretext to make the most of the family reunion. Some families in China even hold religious ceremonies after midnight to usher in the God of the New Year into their homes. It is customary to conclude the ceremonies with a huge barrage of firecrackers to scare away the evil.

Chinese New Year Dragon Dance
Chinese New Year Dragon Dance showcases the best of Chinese traditions and customs. For centuries, Chinese have shown great belief and respect towards dragon. The people of China have faith in a long held belief that they are descendents of the dragon, an age old conviction which is firmly embedded in their customs and traditions. Whereas in western cultures dragons are usually regarded as a symbol of scare and malevolence, in China the dragon is held in high esteem for its supernatural power, goodness, fertility, vigilance and poise. The most exciting and spectacular way of expressing gratitude for the dragon is the dragon dance. From a ritual rain dance to a popular entertainment performed during the Chinese New Year, the dragon dance has come a long way.

The Chinese New Year dragon dance symbolizes the bringing of good luck and success in the coming year for all the human beings on earth.Dragons are considered as the governors of rainfall. In China, where the majority of people depend on agriculture for their livelihood, the timely arrival of rains is a necessity. The legends say that the dragon dance was first performed as a means of appeasing the "Dragon King" into releasing rain onto the drought stricken lands of the farmers.

Dragon dance is an integral element of Chinese New Year celebrations. The New Year in Chinatown ends with the lantern festival on the fifteenth day of the month. In many areas the best part of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. In the dragon dance, a team of dancers carry the image of dragon on poles. The lead dancers of the troupe lift, dip, thrust, and sweep the head which may display animated features controlled by a dancer. The dance troop mimics the supposed movements of this winged spirit in a wicked and undulating manner. Musical accompaniment is often supplied in the form of musicians with traditional drums, cymbals and gongs.

In China dragons are not just winged creatures portrayed in the ancient mythologies but an entity deeply embedded in the soul and heart of every Chinese. And the excitement surrounding the dragon dance proves every bit of the belief. It is considered that the longer the dragon, the more luck it will bring to the society. As a result, Chinese communities make every effort to have very long dragons dancing during the New Year.

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