Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chinese New Year and Spring Festival 2013

On the 10 February 2013, as the tail end of the dragon is seen trailing out, the water snake slithers in to herald the year of the Snake. It is the sixth animal of the Chinese zodiac.
A hissssssssy welcome to the kitchen by a friendly red snake. According to the ancient Chinese, a Snake in the house is a good omen because it symbolises a cornucopia of abundance for the household.

Ornaments for the festival usually have connotations of good fortune, good health, longevity, peace and prosperity.  The fish 'yu' for example denotes abundance. For the farmer, it would indicate a bountiful harvest. For married couples, they hope to have lots of progenies to populate the earth :)

Nian kau, a form of glutinous rice cake is traditionally offered to the kitchen God so that he would give a good report of the household or to seal his mouth if the report is negative :) Its yummy when sandwiched between a slice of yam and sweet potato, then fried to a crisp. Goes well with Chinese tea or kopi-O.

I remember eating Honey-comb cookies made by mum when I was a child.

A selection of traditional cookies
Topmost: egg roll (love letter) and spicy shrimp rolls
From 3 o'clock, clockwise: pineapple, chocolate-nut, butter-potato, green pea and peanut butter cookies.

Mandarin oranges (kam) is the homonym of gold in Chinese so is the most ubiquitous fruit around. It is one of the most popular gift to relatives, friends and business associates. The pomelo is used in a highly celebrated tossed-up salad dish 'yu sheng' which is frequently served on the seventh day or Man's day.

Green bottle gourd,  (Lagenaria siceraria) known as 葫芦 (hulu) in Chinese is a highly regarded fruit as it signifies happiness and wealth. In the olden days the dried gourds were used as flasks for water or wine. This one here has an image of a fish etched into it with a blowtorch. The fish image symbolises surplus or abundance.

  Plum blossoms (梅花) are traditionally symbolic of Chinese New Year as it is quintessentially spring.

A layered paper cut-out of colourful peonies for the door.

The leaves of the Draco are ornamented with tiny fake gold ingots.

Adenium obseum is another auspicious plant. Somehow at this time of the year all eight of my Adeniums are blooming.

A eight-foot tall braided Pachira aka money tree placed at the entrance and gilded lanterns ...

light up the driveway by night.

This is the Chinese character for snake. On the ang pow (a red envelope for placing money to be given away to children, family members or staff) packet from CIMB, is a stylised calligraphy of the character for snake.

These prosperity-cat ang pow packets are from my parents. Originally from the Japanese creature, 'Maneki Neko', it is now widely adopted by the Chinese as the 'Zhao Cai Miao' or Beckoning Prosperity Cat.

Tasha getting in the mood for Chinese New Year and Spring Festival. She is seen here in a pose of the Beckoning Prosperity Dog. Tasha joins us in wishing all Chinese, and friends who celebrate the Spring festival with these felicitation:

"Wan Shi Ru Yi" meaning “May all your wishes be fulfilled”


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