In my household, the holiday is called ‘Lunar New Year’. Considering the holiday is celebrated in many East Asian countries and based on the lunar calendar, it is also known as ‘Lunar New Year’.
This year, the Lunar New Year falls on January 31 and New Year’s Day is on February 1, which is also the beginning of the year of the Tiger.
Traditionally, Asian-American communities around the country celebrate the holiday for several weeks. Parades, festivals, and community events were canceled in 2021 because of COVID-19, but carnival gatherings are returning in Houston.
At home, New Year’s Eve dinner is a family affair, and preparation can begin days in advance.
The most important tradition is to make dumplings with the whole family together. The folded dumplings are shaped like gold bars in ancient China, so it is said to symbolize wealth and good luck. The classic dumpling recipe is filled with pork, napa cabbage, scallions, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and a dash of sesame oil. Some people add shrimp, mushrooms, or make vegetarian dishes with tofu and eggs.
In most modern households, including mine, we cheat a little with pre-made dumpling wrappers to save a few hours of prep.
My boys 8-year-old Winston Wu and 5-year-old Lyndon Wu love to help even though, their dumplings are oddly shaped.
Winston showcases his Texas roots through an interpretation of a dumpling.
Winston said: “I think dumplings are mini banh tet. “They are very small banh tet.”
He’s not wrong, a cooked dish with a filling wrapped in dough is seen in variations of the dish around the word.
Pan-fried dumplings are my favorite traditional way of cooking. It takes a bit of practice, but if you spread the dumplings on a non-stick pan, add a little water, you can steam them right in your pan! In about 10 minutes, the underside will be golden brown. Flipping dumplings on a plate is a trick that is difficult to master.
A good way is to buy frozen dumplings at your local Asian grocery store, then pan-fry them. It will take about twice as long to cook because the dumplings are already frozen, but you save all the work of making from scratch. Don’t worry, your kids will still love them!
Besides dumplings, traditional dishes during the Lunar New Year include vermicelli, which symbolizes longevity, and whole steamed fish. The word ‘fish’ also sounds like the word ‘abundant’, something important in Asian culture to keep in mind as we head into the new year. For dessert, sticky rice cakes called ‘nian gao’ are eaten, which is also meant to symbolize ‘a good year’ and luck is evident.
While all the food may be delicious, my kids’ favorite part of the Lunar New Year festivities is always the red envelopes. Children are expected to visit the elderly during the Lunar New Year season. Whenever children pay respects to their elders, those relatives will give them red envelopes with money inside.
I love this tradition. When I grow up, I’ll get $1 or less in my envelope, when my kids get less dollars in theirs. After all, like all children, they eagerly picked up a new toy with the money given to pay tribute to their grandparents.
This year’s Lunar New Year season, families around the world are wishing for good luck, good health, and welcoming the New Year of the Goat. We also see this as a way to turn the tide of two difficult years with COVID and the rise in hate for Asians that followed.
We hope everyone will take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate with the Asian American community. Whether it’s attending a festival, taking pictures with the lion dancers, or making a batch of dumplings at home, take the opportunity to show love and care to those around you.
And from my family to you, Gong Xi Fa Cai, Xin Nian Kuai Le, best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year!
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https://abc13.com/lunar-new-year-of-the-tiger-chinese-asian-traditions/11526371/ The Year of the Tiger 2022: Miya Shay shares an Asian-American Chinese New Year tradition from food to gifts with family