I’ve been waiting for the New Year to come in, and had no idea until now, that it’s actually today!
Chinese New Year is a time to:
a). Clean the house (just before bringing in the New Year), to sweep away bad energy or bad luck from the previous year. (Does vacuuming and mopping last weekend count?).
b). A time to get your hair cut and buy a new outfit (I do have pieces in my wardrobe that have yet to be worn, and I’m getting my hair trimmed tomorrow).
c). Pay off debts, so that you can start the year anew.
d). Give pretty printed red envelopes filled with $ to children in the family (like the ones below and more here).
e). Eat a lot of (Chinese) food.
f). Watch a Lion dance (there’s a festival on this Sunday in Wellington, which we may head out to).
And of course, red and gold reign supreme as good luck colours to have around the house (or to wear).
Above: Red Good Luck Envelopes and a little hand drum that I brought back from Hong Kong years ago.
Seeing that we had no idea that CNY had come around so soon (I was sure it was in February), I do feel ill-prepared. We’d promised ourselves that we’d try a new gourmet fish n’ chip place for dinner tonight, so the Chinese New Year feasting will have to happen some other time. Mr Sly tells me that we could start our own tradition of eating fish n’ chips and drinking white wine every Chinese New Year! I guess any tradition has to start somewhere?
Above: A print that I bought some years ago by a cool Kiwi-Chinese artist Kerry Ann Lee
But, seeing that Master Sly is now in the picture, I do feel that it’s important to expose him to the Chinese part of his culture and identity; like taking him to see a Lion dance. My first memory of a lion dance, was of being totally terrified of the colourful lion as it moved around a hall filled with people. Yes. I will subject my son to the same experience (not to terrify him), but in the hopes that one day he’ll recognise, and enjoy watching the lion as part of ‘a celebration of what it means to be Chinese’ (I suppose).
We don’t have many Chinese(y) things around the house but above are just a few. I picked up the canvas painting (above -lady in red) whilst in Beijing when I was doing some training with a Peking Opera Company. And below it is the God of Longevity (part of the Chinese 3 wise men). Mr Sly picked it up from an op-shop thinking it was cool, and had no idea that it was Chinese. It’s nice to have the old guy in the house…God- Sau that is.
As for the Chinese New Year theme, here are some iPhone feasting pictures from a trip to my family’s favourite restaurant in Christchurch–The Joyful Chinese Restaurant, which we visited on our recent holiday. There are plenty of Asian (Thai, Northern Chinese, Japanese and Korean) eateries in Christchurch that have sprung up over recent years, but this restaurant continues to be a strong, family favourite. The restaurant has since relocated as a result of the 2011 quake–now located in a glistening, new Riccarton location (5-minutes drive from inner-city Christchurch), with glass-front windows and plenty of seating.
The Joyful serves Cantonese style food and is famous for it’s authentic wonton soup (which we didn’t order on this occasion), but it is delicious, and even my Grandmother raved about the wontons, saying that they were the best she’d had in New Zealand! The wontons are filled with the perfect combination of prawns and pork, with a beautifully delicate, light pastry and the soup broth is made from a light chicken stock with just the right amount of sesame oil, then sprinkled with spring onions. Another favourite is their crispy skin chicken, which comes with prawn crackers (yum). We did order this, but I didn’t have a chance to take a photo, as I was busy bouncing a crying Master Sly on my back.
The restaurant is popular with Christchurch locals and it always pays to book in advance. The serving sizes are huge…and I mean HUGE! So it’s best to order the small size options (as opposed to large), which are actually good, hearty standard size dishes. the dishes range from about $12 (small) to $17 (for large size dishes). Also best to order a few dishes to share of course, so that you get a variety of flavours and textures (as is the Chinese way to order and eat). We tend to pick a dish each and everything goes on the Lazy Susan. The restaurant also sells a selection of delicious Chinese pastries and cakes now, and is one of the only places in Christchurch which does (unless you head somewhere for Yum cha).
Have a great weekend!