Sunday, February 14, 2010
attempting to answer New Year questions
So, even though I have written 3 Lunar New Year themed books (BRINGING IN THE NEW YEAR, THE YEAR OF THE DOG, and THE YEAR OF THE RAT), I don't really consider myself an expert. But I do know some things! So with my limited knowledge, I thought I would try to answer some of the more frequently asked questions there are about the Lunar New Year.
Q. Why is Lunar New Year a different date every year?
A. The Lunar New Year is celebrated on the first day of, well, the lunar year. That means it follows the lunar calendar which is based on the phases of the moon vs the solar calendar--the one we use regularly.
Q. What should we eat for Lunar New Year?
A. No matter what you eat, you should eat a lot! If you remember in my books THE YEAR OF THE DOG, and THE YEAR OF THE RAT, there was always a lot of food! That is because if you are full and satisfied on Lunar New Year, that means you will be satisfied for the whole year. In fact, you should be dinner leftovers as well--that means you'll have more than enough for the New Year!
There are many different symbolic food that one can eat for the New Year. Most people serve a whole fish (with the head and the tail on) because the word for fish is a homonym for the word abundance--and to obtain ALL your abundance for the year, you must serve ALL the fish--so don't cut the head or tail off.
But my favorite dish for New Year's was always the fried dumplings called jiao zi. In, THE YEAR OF THE DOG, my mother says, "If you eat these, you'll be rich!" That is because they symbolize gold coins. For a Jiao Zi recipe try this one.
Q. This is the Year of the Tiger! What does that mean?
In my book, THE YEAR OF THE RAT, there is the story of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, which tells of the great race of the animals to win the the honor of a year named after them. The winning animals had their own characteristics as you can tell by how they they competed.
The Tiger won his place by sheer strength, courage and nerve. That is why they say people who are born in the Year of the Tiger are risk-takers and brave. So, this year, the Year of the Tiger, is the year where we all have to be strong, brave and ready to take risks. It might be a bit unpredictable and surprising--but hopefully all in lucky way