The Chinese/lunar new year is one of the biggest holidays celebrated in China and other Asian countries. It was important for me to make sure that my boys, who are half Chinese, grow up with some fun and meaningful Chinese New Year traditions. Since my oldest son was born, each Chinese New Year I have made the trek to my local Asian supermarket to stock up on goodies like egg rolls, almond cookies, and mandarin oranges. I also pick up some lucky money envelopes and decorations. Typically, children and unmarried young adults pay their respects to their elders and wish them “gong hay fat choy” and other auspicious sayings and in return, they receive lucky envelopes filled with money. When I was a kid, it was not unusual to receive more than $100 from all of these lucky envelopes. Cha-Ching!
There are certain foods that many families serve for the new year that are considered to bring good luck for the new year. For example, long noodles symbolize long life. And shrimp, in Chinese, is pronounced “ha” and it is suppose to make you happy. Ha ha!
At our house we usually make dumplings – which symbolize wealth (the dumplings are shaped like gold ingots). It is said that the more dumplings you eat, the more money you will make in the new year. My whole family gathers around the table to wrap dumplings and it has become a fun tradition, especially for the little ones. We stuff ourselves with dumplings and whatever we don’t finish, we freeze for later and send some home with all of our guests.
To be precise, what we make are technically wontons – not dumplings. The skin of wontons is thinner, which I prefer to the thicker dumpling skin. Dumplings are more popular in Northern China, but because my family is from Southern China, we prefer wontons.
Does your family celebrate the lunar new year? What are your family traditions? Happy New Year and cheers to the year of the fire rooster!
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