February 1, 2011

Vegan Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year!

The Chinese New Year (農曆新年) is an important traditional Chinese holiday. The festival begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations. The 2011 date is February 3 and is the year of the Rabbit. Celebrations include the Dragon dances/Lion dances, fireworks, friends and family gathering, family meal, giving red envelopes, decorating with duilian.

10 Chinese New Year Food Superstitions
10. Oranges and Tangerines - Two of the most common food symbols of the Chinese New Year are tangerines and oranges. Tangerines represent wealth, and oranges are a popular symbol of good luck. During Chinese New Year, tangerines and oranges are displayed as decorations and are also exchanged among friends and acquaintances. Sometimes, small trees are kept for this purpose. When giving these fruits as gifts, offer them with both hands. It's polite for the recipient to refuse at first, so keep trying. If there are still leaves and a stem attached to the fruit, it also means fertility.

9. Noodles - When served during Chinese New Year, noodles shouldn't be cut or broken into pieces. Long noodles represent a nice long life.

8. Chicken - Whole chicken is a popular dish during Chinese New Year because it represents togetherness and rebirth. It's symbolic of the family and can also signify unity and prosperity as a group. There are vegan whole chickens at certain grocery stores.

7. Chinese Dumplings - A popular family New Year's Eve tradition is to get together and make boiled dumplings (jiaozi). Boiled Chinese dumplings are fun and relatively easy to make, and their fried counterparts, pot stickers, are also a Western favorite. The dumplings are filled with vegetables like cabbage, carrots and spring onion, and plant meats.

6. Pomegranates - Pomegranates are a natural for Chinese New Year. They're filled with colorful seeds for fertility and are a bright vibrant red, which represents happiness and repels evil spirits. They're also good for you, with an abundance of antioxidants and vitamin C to help you recuperate after the celebrations are over.

5. Seeds - Seeds are important in Chinese New Year celebrations because they're symbolic of the harvest, abundance and fertility. They represent the potential for good things to come and appear again and again as the embodiment of hope. Many seed-rich fruits are either used as ingredients in classic dishes or for decoration. Besides the symbolic significance of the seeds in fruits like oranges, tangerines, melons, pomegranates and pomelos, seeds are also used by themselves or as major ingredients. Red-dyed melon seeds are added to candies and offered to guests or children, and the sweet seeds of the lotus are candied, too. Red melon seeds have multiple meanings because they incorporate the significance of red for joy with the potential and hope represented by the seeds themselves.

4. Vegetarian's Delight - A large all vegetable medley is a favorite Chinese New Year's Day dish. This classic is sometimes called Vegetarian's Delight, Jai or Buddhist's Delight. Make sure to use plenty of root vegetables. Chinese New Year is the beginning of the spring planting season, so it's a great time to use up those stored winter veggies and clear the shelves for spring greens. To add a little extra good fortune, be sure to include black moss to attract wealth, lotus seeds for fertility, and bamboo shoots for strength and longevity. Some other common ingredients are tiger lily buds, red dates (jujubes), Chinese cabbage, cloud ears and water chestnuts.

3. White Foods - Although you'll see tofu in some Chinese New Year recipes, serving white ingredients is usually considered bad luck during the 15-day celebration. White represents bad fortune and even death, although in other areas of Chinese life it can mean purity, too. Color is often symbolic during this time, and foods that are red, orange, green or gold are considered particularly auspicious. This is one of the reasons tangerines, oranges, red melon seeds and pomegranates are popular food gifts. Their colors are believed to represent the following:
* White - bad luck, death, loss, mourning
* Red - happiness, purity, celebration, health, luck
* Orange - happiness, luck
* Gold/Yellow - happiness, prosperity
* Green - luck, harmony

2. Prosperity Tray - The Chinese New Year prosperity tray is usually a hexagonal or round dish that contains eight traditional candy varieties. The number eight represents prosperity, and each candy has symbolic significance. Made from traditional ingredients, like red melon seeds, peanuts or candied melon, these treats are offered to children and guests. When an adult takes a candy from the tray, he replaces it with a red envelope, or Lai See, that contains a money gift for good luck. The amount of the gift usually ends in an even number, often an eight. The eight traditional candies are:
* Candied melon - good health
* Coconut - togetherness
* Kumquat - prosperity
* Lychee nuts - family ties
* Longan - fertility (for bearing sons)
* Lotus seeds - a large family
* Peanuts - long life
* Red melon seeds - happiness, truth

1. Fish - It's traditional to serve a whole fish on Chinese New Year's Eve and save half for the next day. The Chinese word for fish is similar to the word for plenty, and saving part of the fish for later consumption insures symbolic abundance for the future. There are vegan fish at certain grocery stores and can be made at home with chickpeas or tofu and seaweed.

Other Chinese New Year Food Superstitions:
* Peaches, mustard greens - long life
* Pears - prosperity
* Snow pea shoots - money

Chinese New Year Cocktails
Buddhist’s Delight
Buddha's Delight
VegWeb Spring Rolls
Spring Rolls
VegWeb Wonton Rolls
VegWeb Lettuce Wraps
VegWeb Stirfry with Noodles
Vegetarian Steamed Dumplings
Epicurious Vegetarian Dumplings
Jin Deui (Sesame Seed Balls)
Absolutely Pho-bulous Vegetarian Pho (Phở Chay)
Chow Vegan: Chinese New Year Feast
Chinese New Year Vegetarian Recipes
Hoisin-Braised Tempeh and Chinese Vegetables
Crispy Five-Spice Tofu with Black Bean Relish
Baby Bok Choy with Chinese Mushrooms
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Goji Berries
Sesame Noodles with Napa Cabbage
Vegetarian Pho (Pho Chay)
Vegetarian-Style Congee (Xi-fan)
Black Sticky Rice Pudding
Thai Mango Sticky Sweet Rice Dessert
Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Bananas, Raisins, and Spice
Black Sticky Rice Pudding
VeganYumYum: Wonton Soup
Chow Vegan: Wonton Soup
Colorful Wonton Soup (Vegan)
Vegan Turnip Cake or Daikon Radish Cake
Chinese New Year Chocolate Candy
Super Easy Stir-Fried Cabbage
Crispy Sweet and Sour Seitan
Sweet and Sour "Chicken"
Chinese Steamed Buns (Mauna Pua)
General Tao's Tofu
Sesame Asian Tofu Stir-Fry
106 Vegan Chinese Recipes
Vegan Chinese New Year

Guides and Fun:
Kaboose Chinese New Year
123Greetings Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year: Superstitions and What to Eat
The History of Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year at The Holiday Spot
Chinese New Year Wikipedia
How Stuff Works: Chinese New Year
Religion Facts: Chinese New Year

Remember to check back here often for new post, I try to update at least once a month. Look at my past blog posts for vegan information, resources, and links. E-mail me me if you have any suggestions for new posts, questions on this blog or veganism or questions regarding this post or know any more sites relating to this post.

1 comment:

The Zen Vegan said...

Thanks for the ideas! I'm making a hoisin glazed tofu for us to celebrate that day.