As red decorations are put up and the dragon costumes are brought out, the bell for Chinese New Year is ringing in our heads. The 48hrs Team tells you more about this auspicious time of year
Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first of Zhengyuè, which is the first month in the Chinese calendar, and this year as we turned our calendars to 2018, the Chinese calendar turns to 4716. Traditionally, the Chinese follow the lunisolar calendar, which is governed by the moon and its activities. A month in the Chinese calendar starts with the new moon and ends with a month that is approximately twenty-nine-and-a-half days. This is also because the Chinese calendar doesn’t have 28 days in February.
In the Chinese calendar, months are named after the seasons. For instance, the second month is the Apricot Month, the sixth month is the Lotus Month and the last month is the Preserved Month, since meat is preserved for the spring festival at this time. The Chinese New Year celebrations are quite popular around the world because of their relation to the Chinese Zodiac. This year’s zodiac is the Dog, and according to the Chinese horoscope, this is the year to initiate lifestyle changes. We take you through all the 12 signs and tell you about the Chinese tradition and about the special offers on food around the city.
CIRCLING THE CHINESE ZODIAC
The Chinese Zodiac signs are represented by 12 animals and so, it repeats every 12 years. Your Chinese Zodiac sign is determined by the year of your birth. But there’s more. These 12 animals are also assigned by month (called inner animals), by day (called true animals) and by hour (called secret animals). Each zodiac sign is related to a collection of personality traits, and it partially aligns to the traits of the animal that’s associated with it. Look up your year of birth and determine your animal in the Chinese Zodiac.
People born in the year of the rat are temperamental but ambitious and magnanimous. Although pure hearted, they can be overly critical, and tend to be spendthrifts.
Best match: Dragon, Monkey
Steer clear of: Horse
Those born in the year of the ox are patient; they are born to lead and inspire. They can be stubborn, but they have pure intentions and are generally conservative.
Best match: Snake, Rooster
Steer clear of: Goat
If you are born in the year of the tiger, you are probably aggressive and fiercely protective. These people can be unpredictable, but at the same time they are very emotional and sensitive. Courage is a great attribute.
Best match: Horse, Dog
Steer clear of: Monkey
Born talented, these people are peaceful, calm and caring. They tend to avoid conflict and are usually cautious and conservative.
Best match: Goat, Pig
Steer clear of: Rooster
People born in the year of the dragon are intelligent, imaginative and talented, with a rather enthusiastic personality. However, they tend to be bossy and garish.
Best match: Snake, Rooster
Steer clear of: Goat
They are intuitive, clever and determined. With an intense personality, they tend to be highly romantic. They are attributed with being vain and penny-pinchers.
Best match: Rooster, Ox
Steer clear of: Pig
Intelligent and hardworking, people born in the year of the horse are popular and charismatic. They tend to be selfish, cunning and are usually impatient.
Best match: Tiger, Dog
Steer clear of: Rat
Those who are born in the year of the goat are elegant and kind; they are also creative, passionate and honest. At times, they come across as scattered, apprehensive and vulnerable.
Best match: Rabbit, Pig
Steer clear of: Ox
These people have a knack of being entertaining and alluring, and are known to be intelligent and innovative. They are opportunists and know how to get out of tricky situations.
Best match: Dragon, Rat
Steer clear of: Tiger
People born in the year of the rooster are brave and diligent, but at the same time, they are known to be shrewd, selfish and boastful. They are also attributed with being arrogant and reckless.
Best match: Snake, Ox
Steer clear of: Rabbit
Honest, fiercely loyal and generous, people born in the year of the dog are introverted, anxious and critical. They can be stubborn, but are also diligent.
Best match: Tiger, Horse
Steer clear of: Dragon
The greatest attributes of those born in the year of the pig are their curiosity and patience. They are reliable, sincere, kind, caring and affectionate. They can be impulsive and naive.
Best match: Goat, Rabbit
Steer clear of: Pig
CHINESE NEW YEAR TRADITIONS
ANG POW (RED ENVELOPES)
Much like the tradition we follow during Diwali, the Chinese hand out ‘ang pows’ or red envelopes filled with money during the new year as a token of good fortune and blessing. Generally handed down by married couples to their children and single adults, it is said that the amount of money given in the red packet should never be an odd number.
The colourful tradition of the lion dance is thought to bring good luck and is performed outdoors with drums and cymbals. The lion is considered to be an auspicious animal; it symbolises courage, determination and resourcefulness. It is believed that those who watch the lion dance will be blessed with good fortune.
The New Year is a time of celebration, and so it goes without saying that during the Chinese New Year people gather for big family dinners or reunion dinners. In the old days, it was difficult for family members living in different parts of China to return to their hometown more than once a year. The New Year was the only time when they would make the journey home for a reunion. Nowadays, a feast is held on the eve of Chinese New Year for the family to get together and bond.
FOOD FOR GOOD LUCK
Harbouring special meanings, there are certain foods that are eaten during the 16-day auspicious period. Traditional Chinese New Year foods and dishes include noodles, dumplings, fish, spring rolls and nian gao (glutinous rice cake). They symbolise happiness, longevity, wealth and prosperity as well as higher income or status. Mandarin oranges, which are considered a symbol of good fortune, are also commonly eaten, displayed and gifted.
DECORATING IN RED
Festive décor adorns every street, storefront and home, particularly in shades of red, which is associated with wealth and good fortune in Chinese culture. Red lanterns are hung on the streets, while windows and doors are decorated with posters and papers bearing auspicious characters or phrases. Chinese knots, potted kumquats and golden orange trees are also commonly seen. Since it’s the year of the dog, the decorations will incorporate the theme.
FIRECRACKERS AND FIREWORKS
The firecrackers lit at Chinese New Year are usually made from strings of rolled red paper containing gunpowder that, when set off, leave shreds of scarlet paper in their wake. Traditionally, it is believed that the loud noise of the firecrackers serves to scare away evil spirits. Major cities, including Hong Kong and Shanghai, will put up an impressive display of fireworks around midnight to welcome in the New Year.
It isn’t an uncommon tradition, and much like in India, the Chinese, too, believe in carrying out cleansing rituals to scrub their homes of dust and dirt. Windows are scrubbed, floors are swept and the furniture is dusted in preparation for the New Year, sweeping away the bad luck of the past year. But, dusting is avoided on New Year’s Day, for the fear that good fortune will be swept away too.
CHINESE SPECIALS AROUND THE CITY
Chinese New Year at Yauatcha
Ring in the Chinese New Year celebrations in style with the scrumptious delicacies on offer at Yauatcha. Get together with your family and friends and savour special dishes such as Olive Dumpling, Golden Fortune Prawn in lime sauce, Shredded Pork Loin in hoisin sauce with mantou, Crispy Tofu in Hakka Spicy Sauce and Roasted Chicken in Mala Sauce. Limited edition macaroons will also be available, in flavours such as Vanilla Orchid and Raspberry Szechuan.
When: Up to March 4, from noon to 1am
Where: First Floor, Raheja Tower, BKC
Special dishes at 12 Union Park
To welcome the year of the dog with enthusiasm, indulge in the specially crafted menu at 12 Union Park. Celebrate the Chinese New Year with a hearty feast as you relish scrumptious dishes such as the Spinach seafood roll, Cherry Plum Pork and the Soft noodles with soy, garlic, and basil.
When: Today, 7pm
Where: 12, Ground Floor, Union Park, Carter Road, Bandra (w)
Say Nom Nom to the Chinese New Year
To celebrate the auspicious occasion, Nom Nom brings you a few menu items you won’t be able to resist. Try the Shrimp Tempura Stuffed Bao with Spring Onion Pesto from their range of baos. The food goes well with their special Thyme & Rosemary Sangria and the Lemongrass & Yuzu Bellini cocktails.
Where: Ground Floor, Delux Mahal Building, 16th Road, Near Mini Punjab, Pali Hill, Bandra (w)
Deliciousness of the Chinese New Year
To dispel your sweet cravings, artisanal ice cream brand Sucres Des Terres has partnered with the Cantonese Kitchen, a catering service based out of Malabar Hill, to create a delicious flavour, the new Dark Chocolate Szechuan Pepper Corn with Orange, to welcome in the Chinese New Year.
Where: 2A Rashid Mansion, Samunder Point, Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli