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So you think you know Chinese New Year… (Part 2)

good friend little newport street

Chinese New Year is more than just lanterns and dragon dances, but reaches out to a wide range of cuisines, nationalities and people.

Shuang Shuang, Good Friend & Pho & Bun tell us exactly what Chinese New Year means to them, and how you can authentically celebrate it in Chinatown.

Fah Sundravorakul of Shuang Shuang, from Thailand

Chinese New Year is about getting family together, paying respect to our elderly and taking care of our children. Our family pays respect to our ancestors and many different gods in the morning by preparing lots of food and having a large feast. There will be around 20 different dishes on the menu for our dinner.

爽爽火锅1

Visit Shuang Shuang on Shaftesbury Avenue to kick start your Chinese New Year celebrations

Xixi of Good Friend, from Taiwan

Some Taiwanese households, like my own, have a family altar dedicated to the ancestors. On CNY Eve, we will put fresh flowers and fruits, such as oranges, on the altar as offerings to remember them.

Grab some fried chicken from Good Friend on Little Newport Street to celebrate the Year of the Rooster

Food names that are paronymes of auspicious words (DIALECT) are very popular in Taiwan. For example, we eat steamed sponge cakes (pronounced as “Hua Gui”, a paronyme of “Wealth and Honour”), radish cake (radish is pronounced as “Cai Tao”, sounding close to the word “Luck”) and we eat fish, of course, because of the traditional Chinese saying of “Nian Nian You Yu” (meaning “surplus every year”, with the last syllable “Yu” pronounced same as the Chinese character of fish).

Andy Le of Pho & Bun, from Vietnam

Our celebration is very similar to the Chinese celebration. In Vietnam, CNY falls on the exact same dates as in China. The only difference is that we start the celebration two to three days before CNY Eve. We do pretty much everything Chinese people do for celebration on CNY Eve – cleaning the house and preparing food for the entire family, in most cases the process lasts for a whole day.

Visit Pho & Bun to celebrate as the Vietnamese do.

After enjoying the dinner with family members, we wait for 12 o’clock. Only after that can parents and seniors hand their children red packets. Then we normally set out for temples at midnight. We burn paper money as offerings to our ancestors and light incense for their protection. In the following days, we always go to visit our relatives and friends.

The atmosphere is my favourite thing about CNY. No one is supposed to be angry or unhappy, otherwise, as the tradition has it, you’d be angry and unhappy for a whole year. Everyone is so peaceful and cheerful. Harmony is vividly felt around you.

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