Chinese New Year is here and it’s time to welcome in the Year of the Goat.
Asian food brand Chang’s, a third generation Australian family-owned business, is today led by Elaine Pow who has compiled her top ‘did you knows’ about the most important event of the Chinese calendar.
The Year of the Goat –
Welcome the Year of the Goat! It should be a lucky year as the Year of the Goat is the 8th Chinese zodiac sign, believed to be the luckiest of all signs. The number 8 is believed to be lucky as the word for eight in Chinese is similar to the word which means ‘prosper’ or ‘wealth’.
Some are calling it the Year of the Sheep, but the truth is, it is both. The word used for this zodiac sign can be interpreted both ways but generally Chinese culture refers to the goat.
Get a good breakfast –
Eating porridge is a big no-no and believed to be a bad omen, particularly on the first day of Chinese New Year. Porridge is considered food for poor people, and if you eat it on this day, it is said to bring poverty. Instead opt for cooked rice for your first meal of the New Year. Rice is eaten superstitiously in the hope that the whole family will be rich for the coming year.
It’s also known as the Lunar New Year – Chinese New Year is also known as the Lunar New Year. It’s a celebration of the start of the lunar calendar which explains why it falls on a new date every year.
It’s all about family – There are so many traditions, old and new, but at the heart of Chinese New Year is family. From the start of Chinese New Year and all throughout the 16 day festival, spending time with your family is the most significant part of it all.
What to eat – Certain foods are served during the Chinese New Year festival because of their symbolic meaning. This meaning was given to each food because of their name or appearance.
If you’re planning a New Year feast, serve fish and Chinese dumplings which are both said to bring money, wealth and good luck in the coming year.
Long life noodles are also a traditional favourite, symbolising longevity in life.
Seasonal superstitions – There are some interesting superstitions surrounding Chinese New Year. For maximum good fortune at this time of year, steer clear of the following:
Don’t ask for a financial loan.
No cleaning on the first and second day, meaning Thursday and Friday. This goes for your house and your hair. Washing or cleaning both at the beginning of the festivities is believed to wash away good luck and good fortune.
Wear red underwear – the colour red wards off bad luck and misfortune.
Lucky money – If you’re entertaining this Chinese New Year, it’s custom to give children a small amount of money within a red Chinese envelope. Be generous!
Children sometimes sleep with their red envelopes underneath their pillows as it’s though that this will bring them more luck.
Three goats bring harmony –
Traditionally, people would send New Year cards to friends and family with their best wishes, but today, texting works just as well.
A favourite greeting in the Year of the Goat is ‘San Tyang Kigh Tigh’ meaning ‘three goats bring harmony’ or ‘Gong Hei Fat Choi’ which simply means ‘wishing you a prosperous New Year.’
Wood Goat – 2015 marks the year of the Wood Goat, which only occurs once every 60 years. This follows Chinese Five Element Theory, an ancient theory woven into the fabric of Chinese culture. This theory relates to the movement and relationship of different elements and phenomena in nature and helps explain the many interactions between different things in our lives.
Visit China Town – If you’d like to celebrate Chinese New Year without entertaining at home, check out what fun events there are in your local China Town.
Fireworks – Someone once told me that Chinese New Year sees the world’s biggest annual fireworks usage of the year! Fireworks are used to ward away evil and bad luck so expect to see a brightly lit sky this month. Head out to China Town over the next couple of weeks and see some fireworks in action.
The colour red – No doubt you’ve noticed the use of the colour red during Chinese New Year. Red is a very lucky colour synonymous with Chinese New Year, symbolising fortune, good luck and joy.
Chinese Dragons – The Chinese Dragon dance is a traditional Chinese dance performed during festive celebrations and just like the fireworks, the loud drumming and clashing of cymbals are said to chase away bad luck and evil spirits.
Seeing a Dragon Dance in action is such a great experience for the whole family. Have a look for performances near you over the next three weeks. You’ll love it!
Tidy up – Often when the New Year comes around, it’s a good idea to tidy your space, whether that be your room, apartment or home. Just don’t clean on the first day of the New Year – Thursday, 19 February – because you don’t want to sweep or wash away any good luck coming your way!
Decorations – Red features heavily as it’s believed to be an auspicious colour, with lanterns, couplets and pictures adorning building, streets and houses.
In addition to this, many doors will have two upside down Chinese characters or symbols fixed to them. The reason for this is because the two characters mean ‘good fortune’ or ‘luck’, and ‘spring’. The word for ‘upside down’ is similar to the word ‘arrive’. These characters are hung upside down as a visual pun and way to say that spring has good fortune or springtime has arrived in one’s home.
Get your fill of fruit – Tangerines, oranges and pomeloes are eaten a lot over Chinese New Year. Particular fruits are selected for their roundness and golden colour which symbolises fullness and wealth. Like many other lucky Chinese New Year customs, these fruits are also said to bring luck and fortune as their name sounds similar to favourable words like ‘luck’.
The Lantern Festival – The Lantern Festival marks the end the two week New Year celebrations. It is held on the 15th day and coincides with the full moon. It’s a time for people to come together and celebrate the beginning of spring. Expect to see lots of lanterns and fireworks (red, of course), and enjoy eating Yuanxiao – sweet stuffed dumplings made of glutinous rice flour, served in soup.
- Gong Hei Fat Choi!
Wishing you a prosperous Chinese New Year, from the team at Chang’s.