alittlebristol – January 2014

Chinese New Year Lion DancesWhat happened when popular Bristol-based blog A Little Bristol asked us what we did for Chinese New Year? Check out our interview with them:

What does a Chinese New Year in Bristol involve?

****In the days preceding the New Year, we’ll be making lots of preparations; buying a new set of clothes, getting our hair cut, and cleaning our houses and businesses. This is regardless of being in Bristol, or not. We clear out any bad luck from the previous year to make room for the good luck, and no sweeping during the New Year, as we don’t want to sweep away the good luck!

In Hong Kong, there are four days of public holiday during Chinese New Year. Here in the UK, our family have always had to work during Chinese New Year, as our customers expect us to be open, and the Chinese restaurants and takeaways are busier on the first day of New Year. However, we don’t mind, and always look forward to holding our annual Chinese New Year celebrations, where we welcome the New Year with live fire crackers and a traditional lion dance.

At home, we would have two family meals. The first to end the previous year; the Reunion Dinner, and the second is the Open Year Dinner. It is important for us to be with family and friends at this time, to see the year out, and then in as a family. It is customary to finish the Reunion Dinner meal with tangyuan, their round shape representing the circle of family, and it’s sticky texture signifies the family sticking together.

Are there any events in Bristol taking place this year to mark the occasion?

Well, obviously we have our Chinese New Year celebrations. It is a free event we hold each year, and everyone is welcome to join in the festivities. We will have our usual firecracker and traditional lion dance, but amongst other things a Chinese bakery stall, A bubble tea stall (from Bubbly Tea), Fresh Asia dumpling tastings and a couple members of the mounted unit of Avon Somerset Police – perfect for the Year of the Horse!
Wai Yee Hong – 1st February 2014, Eastgate Oriental City

The Bristol Museum and the Museum of East Asian Arts in Bath both have Chinese New Year programmes, which are free to the public. There are lion dances and origami and other fun things to do with Chinese New Year and the Year of the Horse for everyone to enjoy.
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery – 1st & 2nd February 2014, Bristol Museum
Museum of East Asian Arts – 2nd February 2014, Assembly Rooms

Chinese and Vietnamese associations in the area also hold parties and galas for Chinese New Year (or Tết, in Vietnamese). More notably, the Overseas Chinese Association, whose Chinese New Year fundraiser this year is on Tuesday 4th February 2014, at Water Sky Restaurant. The night will conclude, as ever, with their grand prize raffle with a top prize of £1000 flight tickets!

What should everybody eat during CNY?

Chinese people love puns and rhymes. This is why we will often eat things because they sound like lucky things. For example:
– Prawns (‘ha’) – to eat prawns would mean you have happiness and joy.
– Lotus Roots (‘leen ngau’) – eating lotus roots means that you will have abundance every year.
– Large Mandarin Oranges (‘dai kat’) – ‘Dai kat’ sounds like ‘much luck’, so we like to give and receive large mandarin oranges over Chinese New Year
For other foods that are lucky to eat during Chinese New Year, take a look at our article on Chinese New Year Food:

We also love this video from Strictly Dumpling, which covers some of the eats and avoids on Chinese New Year:

If you weren’t in Bristol, where would you rather be for CNY?

It doesn’t really matter where you are during New Year, as long as it’s with family and those you love.

What does The Year of the Horse mean?

In Chinese culture, the years are assigned one of 12 animals, making up the Chinese zodiac. These animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. These cycle in turn, and each year will take on the traits of each animal. Find out more by reading the Legend of the Chinese Zodiac:

This year, has come the turn of the Horse. Horse years are supposedly impulsive and face-paced, which is great for those who are willing to take chances and follow their instincts. However, it is all to easy to get carried away in the high-spirited Horse Year, so you may wish to keep a closer eye on your wallet!
To read more about the Horse Year horoscope:

What is your favourite memory of CNY gone by?

Something that never fails to evoke the feeling of Chinese New Year is the smell of pomelo leaves. These would be boiled up in a giant pot on New Year’s Eve, and we would use the water to cleanse ourselves, ready for the New Year.

CNY lasts much longer than the annual British affair, how come?

Chinese people know how to celebrate the New Year properly. 😉
It’s the Chinese equivalent to Christmas, which in the UK lasts for a whole season around the actual Christmas Day. In all, the Chinese New Year lasts for 15 days, with each day having its own significance. The final day is Chinese Valentine’s Day, where lanterns are hung up in the streets and squares and candles are lit outside houses to guide spirits home. Single boys and girls get to meet each other over poems written on lanterns.

Anything else we should know?

There are a few things to avoid doing during the first few days of New Year:
– Sweeping, dusting and cleaning – to do so would mean you sweep away the good luck.
– Reading books – the sound of ‘book’ in Chinese is ‘shu’, which is a homophone for ‘shu’, which means to lose or loss.
– Having your hair (‘fat’) cut. You don’t want to cut away your prosperity (‘faat’)!

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