Monday, February 17, 2014

Lunar New Year Food Diary: Festive food and meaning (Part 2)

The Chinese take their festive seasons seriously, and take pride in incorporating the auspicious items as part of the celebration as symbols of the good fortune. The Lunar New Year; or more commonly known as the Chinese New Year in this part of the world, is one of the most important celebration observed by the Chinese for it signifies the arrival of Spring and is where the brand new year starts. The Chinese is very superstitious too, especially when it comes to the beginning and they take particular attention to the details to ensure that everything resets and that all bad things are to be cast away or put at the back of the mind as part of the past and they look forward to a good beginning. Therefore, everything must be meaningful and can only bring good omen; even the names of the food are all given to signify prosperity, well-being, happiness and all positive wishes.

Following my earlier post on the cookies and the platter of goodies displayed at home during this festive season, in this post, I will just share on a few auspicious items often seen during the Lunar New Year and the reasons behind their appearance. Not really a dictionary or wikipedia, but just a simple sharing of the photos and meaning to the Chinese community during this auspicious occasion.

Mandarin Oranges () are the most common and important fruit/symbol during this season.
The Chinese name; Kan, is similar in its sound to the other word ( ); which means Gold. It is supposed to be a symbol of prosperity and wealth. Also, this fruit typically ripens as it approaches Spring and is naturally introduced to the festive celebration. Furthermore, the color of the fruit and the round shape make it even more appealing to the Chinese as an auspicious symbol.

While it is similar on the exterior to the oranges, the mandarins are only slightly smaller and its skin can be easily peeled to reveal its inner fruit. This is another important factor as the first day of the Lunar New Year does not allow the use of sharp objects; knives and scissors and therefore this can be easily consumed with just a peel away.

Pomelo is usually seen during the Mooncake festival, but it is still an auspicious symbol for its name in Cantonese, 'Lok Yau' means have; and can be associated with being able to have anything one wishes for.

A fresh pomelo; or the preferred type of pomelo is with its stem and leaf attached as it usually means that it was freshly plucked from the tree. Also, the leaves from the pomelo tree are often used for its medicinal and also religious properties. From the religious aspect, the pomelo leaves are believed to be able to cast away evil or ward off bad luck. It was rather common among the Chinese community and was even depicted in the movies, where the unlucky folks will always be swept with the pomelo leaves or encouraged to bathe with the pomelo leaves in the water to wash off the misfortune.
For medicinal properties, I was told that the thick skin of the pomelo can be dried and then can be used to treat ailments (though I am not sure what type of ailment).

We were quite lucky for the pomelo appeared to be a 'navel' type, lol, with a tiny pomelo grown inside the pomelo itself.

I love this fruit, and as you can see, this is a type of citrus fruit. While there are many who loves sweet fruits, this unique fruit is best if it is of the sweet, sour with a tinge of light bitterness at the end and it can be a refreshing and cooling treat to combat those heat from the consumption of all the cookies during the festive season.

For those who prepares for deity worship, the following are also the items which they usually like to prepare as offerings to the gods and deities for blessings over the family throughout the year.

A cake; any cake will do actually, although most of the time, the butter pound cake is seen at most of the shops during the festive season. It doesn't cost much, and it is usually packed with a red ominous character stuck on top of the package.

Another type of cake is this Prosperity Cake; or Huat Kueh (in Hokkien) and Fat Kou (in Cantonese) - pretty much means prosperity in short.

This cake is also commonly seen during the celebration of the the 1st and 15th of every lunar month as offerings to the deities on these days, and therefore is also an auspicious item to be consumed even more so in the first month of the brand new year. As its name suggests, it is to wish for prosperity and the good fortune to come into one's life and also their family's throughout the year. It would be even better if they can prosper and grow rich; the common wishes/thoughts which go through the minds of those who consume it.

Hope you have enjoyed the sharing on the festive food and their meanings, and while the festive celebration of the Lunar New Year has ended last Friday, there are still more goodies and photos coming your way in my blog.

To a great new HorseY year ahead!~~

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