Gong Xi Fa Cai, Gung Hey Fat Choy: celebrate the Lunar New Year!

Celebrate Chinese New Year with these delicious family recipes. Happy Year of the Monkey!

Photo credit: Flickr user John (original: http://bit.ly/1SlVAik) CC License 2.0

Whether you celebrate it as “Chinese New Year”, “Lunar New Year” or “Spring Festival”, the festivities kick off on February 8th this year to welcome the Year of the Monkey.  We love celebrating Lunar New Year—not only is it a beautiful time to connect with friends and family, there are so many delicious and traditional recipes to try, and as each one represents a blessing, there’s a story to go with almost every dish.

Besides China, the Lunar New Year is celebrated around the world, including in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Tibet, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Canada. Traditional dishes for the new year include uncut noodles (for longevity), a whole fish, duck or roast chicken (to represent family togetherness), jiaozi dumplings for prosperity and nian gao sticky rice cake. Be sure to fill a bowl with oranges and tangerines to keep on the table—not only are they a yummy snack for kids, they also represent abundance and good luck!

Once you’re ready to get cooking, we love this family’s recipe for plump jiaozi dumplings—while they take some work, they’re easier when you make a family party out of it. Spring rolls are another traditional dish symbolizing prosperity (they look a little like gold bars, right?) that are a bit work-intensive to make yourselves, but totally delicious and popular with kids.  And whether you make this family’s recipe for savoury Nian Gao sticky rice cake noodles, or this sweet storybook version, making traditional dishes (and reading the family stories that go with them!) are the perfect weekend cooking project for your kids to enjoy with you, and a great way to bring in the new year.

It’s said that kids born in the Year of the Monkey are curious, charming and mischievous. While your feast is heating, your family can look up their Chinese Zodiac signs (and compare how good a fit they are, personality-wise!) here. Then, while you get ready to munch, read more about how The Year Of The Monkey will be celebrated around the world. Finally, if your kids are interested in trying out more recipes from China, be sure to check our archives for community-contributed recipes—and if you see a dish we’ve missed, please add it to our library!

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