Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Chinese New Year - 2007

The Year of the Red Fire Pig was greeted with parades and fireworks around the world - and in some places few pigs. In Malaysia and China where there are large Muslim populations, the governments decided that the pig should not be featured much. In China, pigs were not allowed in Chinese New Year TV ads!

closer to home: Even my 6 year old knows that there is no "year of the panda", and I got a thank you note from a Jewish friend for featuring a pig in the Chinese New Year card I made for them.

This years' pictures include:
More to come. . .

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Chinese New Year Foods

According a 2000 Hong Kong government report, Chinese New Year "signifies hope and joy". "A number of special foods are taken during this period as part of the celebration and they exemplify strong local features. " Most Hong Kong residents are from Southern China. Their Chinese New Year food reflects the Guangdong (Cantonese) cultures. The Hong Kong government classifies Hong Kong Chinese New Year Foods into five main categories:
  • steamed puddings (Sweet puddings of flour, sugar, and perhaps vegetables or coconut milk and salty/savoury puddings of flour, preserved meat, turnip or taro),
  • fried dumplings,
  • sweetened fruits and vegetables,
  • glutinous rice balls and
  • seeds.
The focus of their Safe Food Report was actually the food preservatives and colorings found in Chinese New Year foods in 1996 - 1999.

Whole fish, practically a requirement for new Year's eve dinner, was not listed at all. If you are Cantonese - or a boater - do not turn the fish over. You do not want to capsize your boat! After eating one side of the fish, remove the bone and eat the other side - but not all of it. Save some for "new year" - the next day. You want to ensure prosperity - but always having [more/extra fish]. "Fish" and "Extra" sound the same in Chinese.

In Northern China dumplings(jiaozi) are common, perhaps especially for New Year's eve. Long life noodles are eaten for Chinese New Year in some parts of China. I have taken noodles in - with grated carrots, grated cucumber, and sauce on the side to preschools and mixed-age school groups. Last time, we looked at this Long Life Noodle recipe before heading out to shop for ingredients. I always tell them what is in it and never substituted peanut butter for sesame paste (tahini) due to potential allergy issues.

Nian gao (sticky rice cakes) are more common in the south - where more rice is grown.

Someone on the faculty at the University of Victoria posted a more traditional look at Chinese New Year foods and their symbolism. Asian Art Museum has a two-page Fruits and Flowers for Chinese New Year brochure online that discusses a lot of symbolism. For more on foods special to Chinese New Year, read Wikipedia's Chinese New Year Food entry.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Courage, Compassion and Cooperation

This is new to me – a service for Chinese New Year. Unitarian Universalist Association has a clearing house packet (now called Faith Works). Part of its goal is to inspire faith development, and connect ethical and spiritual practices. In Spring 2000, they had a piece on Courage, Compassion and Cooperation which highlighted the Chinese New Year.

I like it. If you do, you may also find a way to use the lesson plans at Learning to Give, not just the one Chinese New Year using the book Sam and the Lucky Money. Their goals are to to educate youth about the power of philanthropy (sharing time, talent and treasure) and empower young people to make a difference in their school, their community and their world!