My family loves Chinese Food, and personally as I follow a plant-based diet I especially love that there are so many vegan options; dumplings, scallion pancakes, cucumber salad, tofu and vegetables. Apparently, China boasts the largest vegan community in the world at around the 50 million mark! Love that.
Most recently, my husband, 4-year-old and I have embarked on a new tradition, we eat out at a Chinese Restaurant every Sunday night. During these dinners we sometimes talk about visiting China, it sounds so exotic doesn’t it, and with my girlfriend Kris recently posting this article on her blog about visiting the Commune by the Great Wall, I am more inspired to make that happen soon.
The Chinese New Year falls mid February, this year and is the Year of the Wood Ram. It is the biggest festival on the Chinese calendar, and a fantastic time to enjoy China tours from the UK, or from wherever you live.
During the afternoon of the New Year, sacrifices are offered to the Heaven; ancestors and family gods as well as wandering souls and gods of properties. Celebrations start just before midnight, kicking off with ancestor worshipping which is followed by dinner filled with savoury feasts.
The Reunion Dinner
If you’re able to attend a reunion dinner, or Tuan Nian (family reunion during spring festival), you’re in for great festivities. It’s one of the most important celebrations in the year for locals. The best foods served for these meals are those that have meaning. Everything is served up in abundance too as abundance is believed to bring families great wealth in the coming year. Reunion dinners typically are filled with vegetable options so plenty for a vegan to eat.
New Year’s Night and Early Morning
After a delicious dinner, locals stay awake all night – something that is believed to delay the aging process and increase longevity. Another significant event on New Year’s Eve is to spend time eating jiaozi, or Chinese dumplings. The shape of the dumplings signifies wealth and luck. Sometimes there is a coin hidden in the dumplings and whoever finds one is said to be showered with good fortune and wealth in the coming year.
You can find dumplings of ground vegetables, wrapped in thinly rolled dough and steamed. It’s traditional to eat a dumpling at midnight to show wishes for a prosperous new year.
It’s also customary to eat a New Year cake known as niangao, this is usually vegan however variations are many. This is eaten after dinner and gifted to friends and family too.
A visitor may notice how every house keeps their lights on all night on New Year’s Eve. At midnight the skies are filled with fireworks to welcome the New Year. Red clothing is then worn for three days of the New Year celebrations.
Early on New Year’s Day it is customary for children to receive presents: usually red envelopes containing money. These envelopes are also handed out during the first few days of the celebrations during family visits.
It doesn’t matter where you stay in China during the New Year’s festivities – there is plenty to see and do and loads of delicious food to enjoy. Get involved in the festivities and traditions that you won’t forget in a hurry.
China, is definitely on my bucket list!
Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum.