Chinese New Year is almost upon us! This year the first day of the Year of the Snake is Sunday 10th February 2013.
This beautiful image is one of a set of commemorative stamps issued in China to mark the occasion (found at chinadaily).
As with all wonderfully traditional celebrations, Chinese New Year began with a scary beast called the Nian (probably a nice guy, and completely misunderstood) coming to a village and eating the livestock and the children.
The villagers decided to leave food outside their doors in the hope that Nian would gobble that up and then not go for the kids and cows (lets be honest, it probably encouraged him).
The breakthrough in the villagers problem came when Nian appeared to be frightened off by a young girl in a red coat, so after that they hung red lanterns and red scrolls in their windows and began to use firecrackers in case he wasn’t scared enough.
I assume the Nian is now extinct due to starvation. Probably for the best.
Reunion Dinner is served on Chinese New Years Eve. A big part of this meal in the South of China is the New Year Cake called a Niángāo or Sticky Cake. We are always suckers for any kind of cake, so here is the recipe;
Grease the pudding basin; prepare a pot of hot water for steaming
2. Batter glutinous rice flour and Cheng flour; add coconut milk and mix well to become paste
3. Pour water into a pot and oil it, turn simmering and added sugar, let it cool and mix with the paste. Keep mixing to avoid producing powder
4. Put back the batter into the pot, then simmer and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, until the batter changes into a paste
5. Add corn oil and mix well, and then cover the pudding basin, covered with aluminium foil and placed in hot water to steam for about 1 hour and 15 minutes before serving.
This cake was believed to be an offering to the Kitchen God – and made sticky so that his mouth would be sticky and he would be unable to badmouth the family to the ‘God of all Gods’ ( Yu Huang Da Di).
I advise making this next time your Mother-In-Law visits you
If you are a Snake, you are probably really good-looking and really popular and if not, don’t worry – there are at least 5 people you know who are secretly in love with you! (probably one of those crazy Roosters!)
Snakes also have a tendency to exaggerate everything, which I think is fine as exaggeration is a billion times better than understatement
Which animal are you? Have a look and see;
Our office boasts 2 Snakes, 1 Tiger, 1 Monkey, 1 Dog and a wuverly Wabbit so we are all set for the coming year (not to mention completely protected against burglars)
However you choose to celebrate your Chinese New Year, have lots of fun and please remember your local takeaway will be shut