The lead up to Lunar Year festival always brought a certain amount of stress to our home, my Mum gathered her thoughts and prepped food for the ancestors/goddesses and the big day. There is no set date for the Chinese New Year, we just follow the Lunar Calendar and this year it falls on Tuesday 5th February 2019. This year we are celebrating the year of the pig – loving, tolerant, honest, and appreciative of luxury.
The Lead up to Chinese New Year
Every year I remember my Mum relating back to the lunar calendar and to know when to bi sun [pray to the ancestors/goddesses], this year it will be slightly different as I’ll be spending it in London and not at my parents home. [However I’m sure my Mum will be doing her normal ritual – give thanks to the ancestors, cleaning, decorating and prepping for the feast to come].
How we celebrate Lunar New Year might differ to other families; we first clean the house – sweeping away the bad omens, then we decorate the house with long red and gold banners across our walls featuring words such as ‘longevity’, good luck’, ‘happiness’.
When Mum lights the incense we know she has started her ritual, she leaves a note by the light switch saying ‘do not turn it off’ we always knew it had begun when we smelt strong incense climbing the stairs to our rooms, she would then prep food to feed the ancestors, whilst burning fake money in the garden [safety first] and we would have to leave the room.
Generally Chinese New Year’s eve is when families gather together and have the main feast – there are various dishes that have symbolic meanings for example fish an increase of prosperity, different dumplings and spring rolls meaning wealth, glutinous rice cakes meaning higher income or higher position, yi mein [longevity noodles] meaning happiness and longevity.
The eve of Chinese New Year is when we bathe in the Pomelo leaves to wash away all the bad luck of the previous year and to get rid of bad spirits, and to welcome another new year. [Popular custom in the southern part of China]. This year Mum had picked off the Pomelo leaves from our aunt’s tree:
In the past when we were much younger we would get new clothes or new bedding but nowadays we just have fresh sheets and fresh clothes to start the New Year with a clean slate. During the night mum would gift us with tangerines/satsumas/mandarin oranges and a red envelope and place it next to our bedside table.
On the morning of Chinese New Year we would drink a warm sweet drink known as ‘Tong Sui’ one of my favourite drinks as its so sweet! This is made from dried longans, dried lotus seeds, dried lily bulb, rock sugar and water. Then the best bit of the day the red envelopes [lai see] – brings you good luck and wards off evil.
Throughout the day we would eat vegetarian food – I’m not sure if other families do the same but it seems to be a tradition in our family, so I shall also be eating vegetarian food tomorrow with my bestie Claire, we have decided to order from our local Chinese takeaway!
I hope you all enjoyed reading my experience of how my family celebrates Chinese New Year!
Happy Lunar New Year to all my friends & family!!! 祝大家新年快樂 , 身體健康!!!
Lots of Love