Happy Chinese New Year – It’s the Year of the Tiger!
Chinese New Year falls on February 1st this year, and with it being such an important celebration to our lovely founders and sisters, Annabel and Emily, we wanted to share its meaning, how it’s celebrated and their favourite bits about this festivity including their own family recipe!
What is Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the longest and most important celebration of all Chinese festivals. Lasting fourteen days, it celebrates the beginning of the new year based on the traditional lunisolar calendar, which is calculated on the orbits of the moon and the earth!
Each year represents one of twelve animals that make up the Chinese Zodiac, and 2022 is the year of the tiger – which Annabel told us is ‘my year!’. Each animal has its own attributes, and people born during their year are believed to have similar characteristics and traits, the tiger being courageous, confident, and ambitious.
With millions of people celebrating across the globe, it’s all about ‘bringing families together, giving an offering and wishing good fortune and prosperity for the year ahead.’
Cutter & Squidge's Orange with Hibiscus Premium TeaHow is it Celebrated?
There are many common customs throughout Chinese New Year, with Annabel & Emily having ‘about 2 weeks’ worth of preparations before they celebrate. ‘Chinese New Year is HUGE for us, more so than normal New Year’s.’
‘Before Chinese New Year, we must spring clean the house, we buy oranges with leaves on, a selection of New Year’s sweets such as candied melon and candied lotus root. We also buy a new outfit for the day and wear red pants!’ Many people thoroughly clean their house to sweep away bad luck and to have a fresh start to the new year, and red pants are supposed to attract good luck! The tradition of giving sweets is symbolic, with candied lotus root wishing for posterity and abundance year after year and candied melon wishing growth and health.
‘On the day before CNY, we have a reunion dinner with the entire family, where we must eat all the food groups including whole fish, chicken, duck, veggies, and noodles.’ The reunion dinner is one of the most important meals of the year; it’s a time for families of all generations to come together, catch up and indulge in plenty of food while enjoying each other’s company. You will find many ‘lucky’ dishes on the table, as Annabel mentioned fish, this symbolises surplus and fortune, while noodles symbolise longevity.
‘On the day of CNY, we are all vegan, which is the sacrifice we offer. We must eat nian gao (New Year cake). The following day we feast with our extended family.’ Nian gao is a must-have traditional food, and it’s believed to have auspicious meaning, symbolising progress and growth.
Celebrations end with a Lantern Festival, with everyone hanging beautiful lanterns inside and outside of all shapes and sizes, alongside music and dancing in the streets!
Cutter & Squidge's Yuzu Mango Cake
‘Red packets! (JOKING — we are too old to receive them, but our children, nephews and nieces get them).’ Red packets are envelopes with money inside, gifted to children (sorry Annabel & Emily!) for the new year. With the colour red representing good fortune, happiness, and success, putting lucky money inside the envelope is supposed to bestow more blessings on the recipient!
Other traditional gifts include fruits, particularly oranges which are a symbol of abundance and happiness!
There are also spectacular dragon and lion dances on the streets, intended to bring good luck and prosperity to all during the parades.
Favourite Family Recipe
‘We love mango pomelo sago pudding; it’s a contemporary HK dessert (like a sweet soup) made with mango, coconut milk, pomelo, chopped canned peaches or fresh mango if you have it. It’s very light and refreshing.’
Here’s the recipe for you to have a go yourselves at home!
- Quarter of a pomelo peeled and separated or a whole pink grapefruit
- 300g mango pulp (canned is fine)
- Chopped tinned peach or fresh mango
- 100 ml evaporated milk
- 100 ml water
- 500 ml water, for boiling
- 100g sago pearls
- 120 ml coconut milk
- 100g sugar or more to taste
First, boil the sago while blending mango, coconut milk, and evaporated milk in the blender. When the sago begins to float and turns transparent, rinse and cool it. Then pour the mixture into a bowl together with the cooked sago and mix well. Lastly, the pomelo and chopped peach is put on top of the mixture for decoration. All these ingredients may be chilled beforehand to improve the taste of this dessert.
Gong hei fat choi (Happy New Year!)