My family doesn’t do holidays. We don’t celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, and we especially don’t celebrate Easter. We do however, celebrate one holiday and it’s the Lunar New Year. Our family has a tradition of getting together every year for my mom’s notorious Lunar New Year’s eve dinner at the restaurant. She makes the most delicious dishes that each have a meaning for the upcoming year. Since becoming vegan my mom has been the most supportive and veganized traditional dishes for me.
Noodles are a special food for the Lunar New Year because they symbolize longevity. They are usually eaten on important holidays or one’s birthday, especially for old people. Eating longevity noodles in the New Lunar Year symbolizes that everything is going to be smooth in the coming year. The noodles are my favorite dish. I could eat these noodles all day everyday.
It is a Buddhist tradition that no animal or fish should be killed on the first day of the lunar year. Vegetables are considered to be purifying, and each ingredient in this dish, from mushrooms to carrots, have their own special significance. My mom makes many different vegetable dishes with yummy bean curd.
Turnip cakes are a must-have for celebrating the New Year plus they’re my favorite dim sum item. It's embraced in Taiwan because the Taiwanese pronunciation for turnip cake, cai tao gui, is a homonym for fortune. It is associated with the phrase "hao cai tao," which means good luck. My family is Taiwanese so turnip cake was a must for ringing in the new year.
Mandarin oranges are a common fruit during the New Year. The word in Chinese for oranges means lucky. Pomelos are another favorite. The Chinese word for pomelo, you zhi, sounds like the word for "to have" in Chinese, which is you. Traditionally, we leave the fruit in front of Buddha to be blessed before eating.
Traditionally families spend New Year's Eve preparing the dumplings and eat them at midnight (however our family has got no time for that because they work all day at the restaurant). The dumpling is usually shaped like an old-fashioned gold ingot. Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebration, the more money you can make in the upcoming cycle. This year, Ben and I brought steamed baos from "Hot Bamboo" as our lucky dumplings.
2019 is the year of the pig. In Chinese astrology, each year belongs to a Chinese zodiac animal according to the 12-year cycle.The pig is the last (12th) position. If you are the year of the pig, you are diligent, compassionate, and generous. Though Pigs rarely seek help from others, they will not refuse to give others a hand. They have great concentration: once they set a goal, they will devote all their energy to achieving it.
Thank you mom to making us dinner every year!
Happy Lunar New Year everyone! Comment below what animal you are! I’m an Ox!