Brampton’s Chinese students celebrated the new year of the snake with a meal in London’s China Town. They explained to other Brampton students the traditions surrounding New Year and of the dishes they ordered for the whole group.
Our Chinese students have explained to us some of the other traditions surrounding New Year.
Traditional Chinese Food
‘In China, on New Year’s Eve, all family members should sit together to eat dinner. There is only one kind of food on the table, which are dumplings. The most special part about making dumplings is to put a coin into one of them. The person who eats the dumpling in which there is a coin is the luckiest in the whole family.‘
‘It is traditional for old People to give red envelopes containing money to the younger generation.’
‘Chinese New Year is a time when families get together to celebrate. It is also a special time to remember members of the family who have died. In the days coming up to New Year every family buys presents, decorations, food, new clothes and people have their hair cut. Houses are cleaned from top to bottom. The aim is to sweep out any bad luck from the old year and clear the way for good luck. However it is bad luck to clean on New Year’s Day itself.’
‘Families put lights up outside their homes rather like our Christmas lights. Doors and windows are often newly painted in red. On New Year’s Eve decorations made from red and gold paper are hung down the doors to bring good luck. These are marked with messages of good fortune such as happiness prosperity and long life.’
The Dragon Dance
‘Dragons are of course legendary animals important to Chinese people who think of them as helpful, friendly creatures. They are linked to good luck, long life and wisdom. Chinese Dragons are associated with storm clouds and life-giving rain. They have special powers so they can fly in the air, swim in the sea and walk on land. The dragon has features of other animals such as the horns of a stag, the scales of a fish and the footpads of a tiger. Dragon dances are performed at New Year to scare away evil spirits. During the dance the performers hold poles to raise and lower the dragon. Sometimes one man has a ‘Pearl of Wisdom’ on a pole and he entices the Dragon to follow him to the beat of a drum, as if searching for wisdom and knowledge.’