Now that you have merried your Christmas, drunk your cup of kindness for the sake of auld lang syne and already broken those new-year resolutions, it’s time to get started on Easter. Your local Coles or Woolies have already got the hot cross buns and chocolate eggs out.
But put those Easter goodies away until…. well, Easter – and hop on down to your local Chinese supermarket and stock up on the festivities to welcome in the Year of the Rabbit.
The Chinese New Year this year officially begins on Sunday 22nd January and ends on Sunday 5th February. Known as the Spring Festival, it dates back over 3,500 years and is brimming over with traditions, merriment and food.
Traditions that include the cleaning of the house – to signify getting rid of the old and bringing in the new. The decorating of the home in red – to ward off evil and invite good luck and prosperity. The giving away of red envelopes with money in them.
Known as ang pows, they are to give to children and singles by adults and married couples – to once again ward off evil and welcome in health, happiness and longevity of life. And we could all surely use some prosperity and evil to be warded off!
The Lion and the Dragon Dances that create much merriment to Chinese New Year. With beating drums, clashing cymbals and exploding colour, these figures of power, wisdom and wealth offer hope and joy to the occasion. One is considered quite lucky if one is touched by the dragon.
The most significant tradition is the New Year’s Eve dinner where all family members must attend – no matter where in the world they are. The dinner is believed to be the most important night of the festival. If a member truly can’t make it, the family will leave the spot empty but lay the table out with the utensils as if the person is present.
CNY culminates on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival. This festival has several origins with the most recognised being the one of Emperor Ming, upon learning of the Buddhist monks lighting lanterns on that 15th day decreed that imperial palaces and individual households do the same. They symbolise good luck and prosperity as well as reunion, socialising and freedom.
The gastronomical delights of the new year celebrations have been brewing and simmering for thousands of years. Beef, pork, chicken, fish – boiled, steamed, roasted, fried and served with fruit, vegetables and special meanings.
Steamed fish that symbolises surplus and wealth. Roasted pig that brings peace. Eggs that herald in health for the family. The fruit and vegetables have significance as well.
Bamboo shoots represent longevity as well as going onward and upward; grapefruit suggests wealth and prosperity and watermelon brings good fortune. But the most interesting of all is the mandarin orange.
That local Chinese supermarket of yours will have its shop decorated with mandarin orange trees. Much like Christmas trees, they are signs of the holidays and symbolise the bringing in of life’s riches. The Chinese word for mandarin – kam – sounds like the word for gold. Hence why this citrus fruit is also given to family, friends and business associates.
Let’s now burrow into the characteristics of this year’s hero Chinese Zodiac animal – the Rabbit. A kind yet strong creature that, from time to time, enjoys the spicier things in life, the Rabbit is empathetic with sensitive feelings. It is rather good in art, music, architecture and literature.
The male Rabbit is extraordinarily polite and will do whatever needs to be done to avoid conflicts. But he is no pushover – there is a line he will not cross. The female Rabbit loves being social and is conscious of her public image. She too hates arguments.
2023 is the year of the Water Rabbit, with many highs and just as many lows for all bunnies. It’s important that Rabbits keep tabs on their spending and don’t live above their means. They also need to look after their health, especially if they have a chronic condition.
When it comes to affairs of the heart, single Rabbits will be quite merry whereas the married ones will find some friction in their relationships. For rest of us Dragons, Tigers, Pigs and the like, the Year of the Rabbit promises relaxation and comfort.
The Year of the Rabbit is for those born in the years of 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011.
But no matter what year you are born in, you can partake of the merriment that is the Chinese New Year at the Perth Chinese New Year Fair on Sunday 29th January. A fair that foresees much festive fun and food.
You can also come up with a few more new-year resolutions to break, whilst saving those hot cross buns and Easter eggs to enjoy during…. well, Easter.