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You gonna see a series of posts in “red” cos Chinese New Year is coming soon and red is liberally used in all decorations! This year, the first day of of the first lunar month falls on 26 Jan.

Chinese homes are often decorated with paper cutouts (剪纸) of Chinese auspicious phrases and New Year’s couplets (春联) written on two strips of red papers, fresh flowers, plants and red lanterns that you can see here. Traditionally, lanterns are believed to scare away evil spirits while brightening the mood with the red glow of good luck.

In Chinese, “Fish” (鱼) and “abundant” (余) have the same pronunciation, so fish in the Chinese culture symbolizes wealth, like a popular Chinese phrase “年年有余” which means “may there be surpluses every year”. Fish also symbolize harmony, marital happiness and reproduction because they multiply rapidly.

The most popular fish motif found in Chinese art and culture is the Chinese carp or koi fish. The carp symbolizes strength and perseverance. Its scales and whiskers resemble that the dragon, a great symbol of power in China. Now, you can eat mango jelly koi! (Price tags shown in this post are in Singapore dollar.)

During Chinese New Year celebrations, families and friends make “new-year visits” (拜年) to one another’s homes. Every household keeps their tables topped up with sweet and savoury specialties to welcome relatives and friends with festive treats. With these irresistible temptations, it takes much discipline not to overeat and stay healthy!

“Today’s Special” – Buy pineapple tarts and get cashew nut or cappuccino cookies FREE!

A lady carefully arranging freshly baked pineapple pastries into a container. Pineapple represents good fortune. I love to eat them if they are not too sweet. Gosh, gonna gain some weight very soon!

Melon seeds and groundnuts in different flavours… there are garlic groundnuts, soy sauce black melons etc. Eating melon seeds suggest proliferation of offspring and groundnuts represent longevity. Chinese like to play with words and symbols.

Often homonyms are used on dishes to make them sound similar to words and phrases refering to wishes expressed during the Chinese New Year. All the symbolic food that Chinese eat during the Spring festival has an auspicious meaning. These are auspicious dried food nicely wrapped in gift boxes. Dried scallop means gold and wealth; mushroom means seizing opportunities.

In Singapore, Ba Gua (), marinated barbecued pork usually in square-shaped slices, is a highly popular gift for relatives and friends. Days before the Chinese New Year, you will see crazy queues at some famous Ba Gua stalls, and all are willing to pay a much higher price for Ba Gua than normal days where there are no queues!

Well, I am not a fan of Ba Gua (or Bakkwa), find it too oily! =P

On the eve of Chinese New Year, families will gather for reunion dinner. In Singapore, usually we have steamboat at home. We’ll have a reunion dinner with my parents and siblings one day earlier, that’s today, then, later in the night, me and my hubby will be taking a coach to Ipoh, Malaysia for another reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s eve.

There is so much to talk about Chinese New Year. See you in my next update soon. GONG XI FA CAI! Happy “Niu” Year!