Gung Hei Fat Choy
Kung Hei Fat Choy
Going xi fa cai!
It’s Chinese New Year today, and I realized I don’t really know that much about it. So I interrogated my Chinese-American friends… who weren’t much better!There are, as would be expected, similarities to the Japanese New Year (お正月 = おしょうがつ = o-shogatsu).
Actually, for the record, John is Korean… he was reporting on his girlfriend’s family, which is Chinese.
BRAIN: what chinese goodies are important now?
like during the moon festival you can get moon cake
CHIA: red envelopes for new year
bamboo leaf wrapped rice thing that celebrates some poet killing himself
JOHN: You eat these veggies that look like long black hair. Not beautiful silky hair, but the wet hair that girl from the Ring had.
JOHN: the hair thing is for long life.
JOHN: you also eat lettuce for money.
CHIA: you’re supposed to have fish at some point
CHIA: maybe i should wear red today
Rhys was a lot less lame:
RHYS: hm, well, in Hong Kong at least, the names of the dishes are homophonic with lucky things… like “dai lay” means big tongue, or big fortune. So a traditional (don’t know how far back this tradition goes….maybe 19th century cantonese?) dish would be something to do with pig’s tongues.
RHYS: “ho see” is good business/market, and it’s also the same as ‘dried oysters’ so the cantonese eat those.
RHYS: “fat choy” is luck and fortune, but it’s also the same as hair fungus.
RHYS: so you have a dish with that
RHYS: then everyone has the dried and candied lotus seeds and lotus roots and melon seeds.
RHYS: candied kumquats… i honestly don’t know [more] then, good stuff. like our thanksgiving meal. you’ve got the staples, and then other good banquety items
RHYS: then there is the red envelopes, of course. do you have a clear idea of how they work?
RHYS: it’s a tradition that is tied to the house visits that you do from the 1st to the 15th of the month: you’re supposed to visit everyone you know during those 15 days
RHYS: the going rate for random kids of acquantances you don’t know at all is probably $3-5.
RHYS: generally, you receive until you get married, or until you’re too ashamed to be flaunting your singleness. Then you start giving to children and single people. But keep in mind people are “supposed” to get married as 22 year olds or younger
From a CHINESE NEW YEAR page:
- Lotus seed – signify having many male offspring
- Ginkgo nut – represents silver ingots
- Black moss seaweed – is a homonym for exceeding in wealth
- Dried bean curd is another homonym for fulfillment of wealth and happiness
- Bamboo shoots – is a term which sounds like “wishing that everything would be well”
- Fresh bean curd or tofu is not included as it is white and unlucky for New Year as the color signifies death and misfortune
Other foods include a whole fish, to represent togetherness and abundance, and a chicken for prosperity. The chicken must be presented with a head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness. Noodles should be uncut, as they represent long life.