Chinese New Year – Year of the Tiger – Chinese New Year 2022 will fall on Tuesday, February 1st, 2022, beginning a year of the Tiger.
Also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is China’s most important festival. It is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar.
Traditionally a time to honour deities as well as ancestors and now it is also a time to feast and to visit family members.
Each Chinese year is associated with an animal sign according to the Chinese zodiac cycle, which features 12 animal signs in the order Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. 2022 isthe year of the Tiger.
Known as the king of all beasts in China, the zodiac sign Tiger is a symbol of strength, exorcising evils, and braveness.
The Year of the Tiger will be about making big changes, a year of risk-taking and adventure! You will find enthusiasm again, both for yourselves and for others. Generosity is at an all-time high and social progress feels possible again.
The celebrations last about two weeks in total, taking place from Chinese New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the year. Regional customs and traditions vary widely but share the same theme – ushering out the old year and bringing forth the luck and prosperity of the new one.
Lucky food is served during the 16-day festival season, especially on the New Year’s Eve family reunion dinner. Fish is a must as it sounds like ‘surplus’ in Chinese and symbolises abundance. The fish is generally steamed, and different types of fish can be served, based on the family’s wishes:
Crucian carp: eating crucian carp brings good luck for the next year.
Chinese mud carp: eating Chinese mud carp brings good fortune.
Catfish: eating catfish is a wish for a surplus in the year.
The fish should be the last dish left on the dinner table with some leftovers: the fish is considered a good omen to having more money in the upcoming year. For this reason, the fish must be carefully positioned on the dinner table:
The head should be placed toward distinguished guests or elders.
Diners can enjoy the fish only after the one who faces the fish head eats first.
The fish shouldn’t be moved.
Eating the fish is accompanied by the popular saying, “May you always have more than you need!”.
Other lucky foods include the following:
Dumplings, which are a staple of Chinese cuisine, are associated with wealthiness: according to tradition, the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations, the more money you can make in the New Year. It’s all more complex than this: in fact, different dumplings have different meanings.
Dumplings with sauerkraut are forbiddenbecause they mean a poor and difficult future; it’s common to eat dumplings with cabbage and radish as a symbol of prosperity both for the body and the mind.
It’s completely forbidden to arrange dumplings in circles: dumplings must be arranged in lines as a symbol of life going somewhere.
Before eating a dumpling, all the people at the dinner table have to say the following phrase: “Zhāo cái jìn bǎo, “which means “Bringing in wealth and treasure.”
Spring Rolls. The name Spring Rollsrefers specifically to eating this dish during the Lunar Year (also called the Spring Festival). There are no specific rules to follow when it comes to spring rolls, but it’s common to say the phrase “A ton of gold, “referring to this dish as a carrier of prosperity.
Nian Gao is a traditional glutinous rice cake made of sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, dates, and lotus leaves. Eating Nian Gao is accompanied by the phrase “Getting higher year-after-year by year,”meaning a general improvement in life.
Sweet Rice Balls is another staple of the Chinese celebrations: their rounded shape is associated with reunion and being together.
Noodles symbolise longevity: in fact, they are longer than normal noodles and uncut. The longer, the better.
Steamed Chicken. A whole chicken is another symbol of the family; that’s why, once cooked, Chinese people first offer the chicken to the ancestors asking for blessings and protection.
Fruit and Vegetables play an important role in a Chinese dinner table, and each of them symbolizes something specific.
Bamboo shoots: represent longevity.
Poria mushrooms: represent blessings and fortune.
Muskmelon and grapefruit: represent family.
Seaweed: represents wealth and fortune.
Fa Gao is a typical Chinese dessert made with soaked rice that is then ground into a paste and steamed. Exactly like the Nin Gao, it is a wish for success.