Kung Hei Fat Choi! That’s “Happy New Year!” in Chinese. I cannot wait to return to HSN January 28th, 29th & February 1st to kick off the Chinese New Year early with all of you!
February 3rd is the start of Chinese New Year, and this year marks the year of the Rabbit! As a child growing up in China, I looked forward to the Chinese New Year with all the excitement and enthusiasm that could possibly exist in my little body. Just as children in the West look forward to Christmas and the holiday season, children in China look forward to the celebration of the New Year. For over 4,000 years, the Chinese New Year has been our biggest holiday of the year; a time of family, community, traditions and reflection, as well as shared excitement about the promise of the future.
We start preparing for the New Year festivities a month in advance; cleaning, sweeping, dusting, painting to make sure that everything is fresh and clean for the New Year. Everyone pitches in to get ready for the celebrations, since the parties usually last for two weeks! Like many families, my friends and family prepare foods steeped in tradition – one of my favorites is the rice cake, called “nian-gao.” Nian-Gao is also a message of good luck and means “getting better year after year.” My mother would simply grill the Nian-Gao’s on our wood stove while my sisters and I would gather around her to enjoy the cakes’ warm sweetness as soon as they came off the stove.
But the most exciting part of the holiday is on the eve of the New Year. On this night, traditions that have been passed down for generations are very carefully observed in everything from food to clothing. For dinner, we have a feast of seafood and dumplings, which each signify good wishes. We eat prawns for liveliness and happiness, dried oysters (ho xi) for all things good, plenty of fish dishes (Yau-Yu) to bring good luck and prosperity, seaweed (Fai-chai) to bring prosperity, and dumplings boiled in water (Jiaozi) for long-lasting good wishes for our family. Everyone is usually dressed in the color red, because in Chinese tradition red is meant to ward off evil spirits. After dinner, our family stays up talking and laughing while playing cards or playing board games waiting until midnight when fireworks light up the sky!
On New Years Day, an ancient custom called Hong Bao, meaning Red Packet, takes place. This tradition involves married couples giving children and unmarried adults money in red envelopes. Later, we go from door to door, first to our relatives homes and then to our neighbors to extend warm New Year greetings. Much like the Western expression “let bygones be bygones,” Chinese New Year is a time to let go of the past and start fresh and anew.
I cannot wait to kick of this New Year of the Rabbit with you on HSN January 28th, 29th & February 1st! I feel the love, I feel the life, I feel the excitement, and I feel the passion and I cannot wait to share all of this with you!
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