Happy New Year

“Chi fan le mei you?” - “Have you eaten yet?” - is a common greeting made by hosts as they welcome guests during Chinese New Year. As Suffolk's Chinese community prepares for the year of the pig feature writer JAMES MARSTON looks at some of the traditions and history surrounding the big event.

“Chi fan le mei you?” - “Have you eaten yet?” - is a common greeting made by hosts as they welcome guests during Chinese New Year. As Suffolk's Chinese community prepares for the year of the pig feature writer JAMES MARSTON looks at some of the traditions and history surrounding the big event.

ARE you stubbornly optimistic? Do you consider yourself to be intellectually curious or a little bit naïve? Maybe you're honest and tolerant and talk non stop?

Well if the answer is yes to those questions, then maybe you're a pig.

Tomorrow the year of the dog comes to an end and the Chinese community celebrates the year of the pig.


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Calvin Pun, manager of Temptation Chinese restaurant in St Helen's Street, Ipswich, said the celebrations are a time for families to get together. He said: “It is a big celebration. The Chinese calendar has 12 different animals and this year is the year of the pig. The pig is peaceful and friendly and means good things.”

The 25-year-old said the restaurant would be celebrating the New Year with a traditional lion dance display outside the restaurant at 7pm on Sunday and Monday evenings. He added: “It is traditional to give money to unmarried people in red packages. Red is a lucky colour. New Year is a big celebration for the whole community.”

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Chinese New Year is the biggest festival of the year in Chinese communities and many of the traditions of Chinese New Year centre around food either being cooked or eaten. Special foods are prepared to mark the occasion.

Long noodles are used, to guarantee that all at the table will have a long life and almost every dish has a symbolic meaning or name that sounds like the Chinese words for fortune, happiness, longevity and prosperity.

Hoe see fat choy , hair seaweed (fat choy) with dried oysters (ho see) sounds like "wealth and good business," lotus roots (lin ngau) mean abundance year after year, while lettuce translates into "growing wealth" and pig's tongue forecasts "profit."

In many homes, a platter with either five meat or five vegetable dishes may be served, this is called 'the five blessings of the new year' referring to longevity, riches, peace, wisdom and virtue.

On New Year's Eve, when families gather, carp is a typical main course, because it symbolises a profitable year ahead. The fish is never fully eaten to ensure that the family will have an excess of good fortune through the year.

Foo Trong, owner of Trong's restaurant in Ipswich's St Nicholas Street, said Chinese New Year celebrations are full of superstitions and traditions.

He said: “My family is originally from Northern China and I came to the UK 26 years ago. New Year is very much like Christmas. It is a time for family and friends to get together.”

Mr Trong said his restaurant would be serving a four course banquet to 165 people over the course of two days.

He said: “We like to share new year with the wider community and we have a traditional lion dance and firecrackers booked for the Sunday and Monday evenings.”

Lasting 14 days in total, Chinese tradition dictates that houses should be swept and cleaned thoroughly before the celebrations begin.

Mr Tring said: “You mustn't sweep up. Its very bad luck to sweep up during the celebrations as it would be sweeping away good luck. The dust from the firecrackers coats furniture but you can't clear it away.”

Mr Trong said the small Chinese community in Ipswich would be looking forward to the event.

He said: “It is a time of new beginnings and new life for the new year. I'm really looking forward to new year.”

How will you be celebrating Chinese new year? Why not send us pictures or footage of your event. Send with the prefix ESTAR to 07843500911.

Known in Chinese as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, this is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays.

The festival proper begins on the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th, on the Lantern Festival.

Chinese New Year's Eve is known as Chúxì. Chu literally means "change" and xi means "eve".

It creates the largest human migration , when Chinese all around the world travel home to have reunion dinners with their families on Chinese New Year's eve.

According to legend, in ancient China the nián, a man-eating beast from the mountains, could silently infiltrate houses to prey on humans.

The people later learned that the nián was sensitive to loud noises and the color red, so they scared it away with explosions, fireworks and the liberal use of the colour red.

These customs led to the first New Year celebrations. Guò nián which means to celebrate the new year, literally means the passing of the nian beast.

Source en.wikipedia.org

Years: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

Pig personality traits:

Intellectually curious

honest and tolerant

naive

optimistic

Their main goal in life is in serving others, and no matter how difficult circumstances become the Pig will never waiver or retreat, forging ahead in the sure knowledge that all will be well.

People born in the Year of the Pig are trusted associates in whatever career they happen to choose and often shine as entertainers, social activists or politicians.

Source www.chiff.com

Famous people born in the Year of the Pig

Lucille Ball.

Humphrey Bogart.

Thomas Jefferson

Ernest Hemingway,

Alfred Hitchcock,

Mahalia Jackson,

David Letterman

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Go Red - Red symbolises fire which according to legend drives away bad luck. Traditionally, the Chinese lit bamboo stalks as they believed the flames would frighten off evil spirits. Today, red clothes, red decorations, poems on red paper and 'lucky money' (money given to children in red envelopes) are used to keep the spirits away.

Clean Up - Before New Year, give your house a thorough sweep. The Chinese believe this sweeps away any bad luck from the previous year. But take note, sweeping during the first few days of the New Year may result in sweeping away good luck.

Make a Sacrifice to the Kitchen God - The Chinese offer the Kitchen God a little treat in the New Year to ensure he gives a good report on their family's behaviour when he returns to heaven. A poor report will lead to bad luck in the New Year. Popular offerings in China are sticky cake (Nian Gao) which is steamed Chinese fruit cake. But you could try baking a cake for a neighbour.

Eat together - On New Year's Eve families gather together to eat jiaozi or boiled dumplings. Similar to the western tradition of hiding a coin in the Christmas pudding, it's common to hide a coin in one of the dumplings. Whoever gets coin will have good luck in the coming year.

Stock up on oranges - Tangerines and oranges are given to children and guests as they symbolise wealth and good luck.

Prepare a Tray of Togetherness - This is a circular tray with eight compartments, each containing symbolic foods such as lotus seeds and lychee nuts. The tray will ensure a sweet New Year. To create your own, head to your local supermarket and stock up on dried fruits, nuts and seeds.

According to Chinese Legend, Buddha asked 12 different animals to meet him on Chinese New Year.

Buddha then named a year after each of the animals and announced that those born in each animal's year would inherit some of its personality.

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