This article is sponsored by Orange Clove Catering.
Lunar New Year is approaching us in no time and after immense turkey and log cake, the limelight now turns to Bak Kwa and pineapple tarts.
Lunar New Year is well celebrated in Singapore and over the world, and while we learn about the customs and traditions of the festive, there are many other interesting ones that we frown or get amused at.
Let Orange Clove share with you some of these traditions, and how you can join in the fun to have a good start of an auspicious year ahead!
- Greeting people in the right place
Do you know that it is considered unlucky to greet someone in your bedroom, and vice versa? This is why even the sick should get dressed up and appear in the living room.
- Sweet-lipping the gods
Chinese people hold the Kitchen God, also known as Zao Jun, in very high regard. He is the highest-worshipped god for those who want to protect their household and family. The Kitchen God’s duty is to inform the chief spirits (Jade Emperor) of the family’s behavior over the past year.
The household would burn a paper effigy of the Kitchen God at the end of the lunar year, in order for the god to ascend to heaven to see the Jade Emperor to deliver the report.
Before the burning of the effigy, the family would smear honey on the Kitchen God’s lips and mouth to sweeten his words or to keep his lips stuck together due to the stickiness. Firecrackers are also used as it’s believed to speed up Zao Jun’s journey into the heavens.
- Ancestor worshiping
The spirits of ancestors are ushered in to join the family’s celebrations. Before family members sit down to have their reunion dinner, they usually present offerings of food, fruits, tea and flowers to their ancestor’s memorial tablets or tombs. In most families, the tablets are located either in their homes on the ancestral altar, or in the temples due to the limitation of land locally.
Ancestor worshiping is not asking for favours, but to fulfill one’s filial duties. Not only is it an act of respect, but it is also to honour and look after ancestors in their after-lives, while bestowing their blessings upon the living.
The belief may be subjective, but the underlying value of filial piety is what that makes it worthwhile.
- Reunion dinner
The whole family gathers on Chu Xi (eve of the new year) to feast together during dinner. The dinner symbolises the love and respect that binds them together as a unit. Every member is expected to return for this dinner. Traditionally, all sons return to their parents’ homes for this occasion while married daughters share the tables of their husband’s families.
For this meal, the best food is served in abundance, whether the family is rich or poor, to symbolise the hope for greater material wealth in the coming year. Tuan Yuan Fan (togetherness meal), also known as the reunion dinner, can include delicacies like abalone soup, chicken, mushrooms, duck, fish, chap chye (mixed vegetables), roast pork and steam boat.
Although it is common to have reunion dinners on the eve of the Lunar New Year, many are opting to celebrate few days or a few weeks earlier prior to the bustle of the New Year.
With an hectic schedule being a reason, many are choosing to leave the hassle of dinner at a restaurant. Instead, they simply order an elaborated buffet and enjoy them in the comforts of their own home.
As a leading corporate caterer, Orange Clove introduces its Chinese New Year menu from 9th January all the way till 12th February 2017.
Besides family reunion, it is also a popular tradition for companies to hold an internal reunion meal with their staff. As a halal caterer, Orange Clove offers halal pen cai (starting from $211.86 w/GST) and yu sheng to bring everyone together with a delectable new year’s buffet.
New Year menus start from $20.20 w/GST ($18.88) for the Gold Opportune to $26.62 w/GST ($24.88) for New Beginnings. Companies can also opt for an elaborated buffet with a themed setup or an intimate get-together with Bountiful Yield mini buffet suited for 15 guests.
More details can be found on orangeclove.com.sg/menus
- Auspicious Foods
Placing a great emphasis on the symbolic meaning behind the food served during Lunar New Year, this can be from the pronunciation of the food, colour, and the tradion that some edible items represent, plus a variety of other reasons.
A number of food items that represent wealth are: bamboo shoots, black moss seaweed and egg rolls. Chicken symbolises happiness and marriage, eggs represent fertility, whole fish means prosperity and abundance and is also believed to aid your wishes to come true.
Besides a variety of buffet options, Orange Clove offers an abundance of Lunar New Year flavours as side dishes to complement the buffet.
There is the Hainanese chicken rice, fortune chestnut chicken and chicken kong bak pau to name a few. Rumour has it that Singapore’s president Tony Tan is a fan of Orange Clove’s Hainanese chicken rice.
Mandarin oranges symbolise gold, wealth and luck – perhaps a reason why everybody loves exchanging mandarin oranges. Additionally, lychee nuts mean close family ties while the pomelo represents abundance, prosperity and having kids.
You now have more reasons to indulge in these sweets and savories.
Modernisation has taken a toll on how these Lunar New Year traditions used to be. Rather than blindly following these traditions, the beauty lies in getting children and elders together to partake in the annual feasting and celebration. It is all about relating the importance of bonding to our next generation.
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