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Throwing a Chinese New Year party for the first-timer

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Chinese New Year decorations are usually red, with gold lettering or pictures of the zodiac animal for the year. In 2012, the legendary dragon is the presiding animal.Nian Gao is a sticky rice cake that is commonly fried or steamed and eaten at Chinese New Year for luck.

Even if you’ve never celebrated Chinese New Year, there’s no reason you can’t get into the festivities during the season. So why not throw a Chinese New Year shindig or dinner party?

Chinese New Year explained

Before planning for the party, it might help to understand a few of the traditions of Chinese New Year. Based on the Chinese lunar calendar, the festival usually occurs in late January or February each year. This year, Chinese New Year falls on 23 January.

Chinese tradition assigns each year one of 12 zodiac animals in a cyclical order. The dragon is 2012’s presiding animal, and its years are generally considered auspicious for new businesses, marriages and children.

The origin of Chinese New Year is ascribed to a legendary tale of an annual fight against a mythical beast called the Nian. It would come on the first day of the new year to eat livestock, crops and even humans. One year, the beast was scared away by a little child wearing red. And so the villagers would hang red lanterns and spring scrolls on walls and doors. And thus red became an auspicious colour to wear during the season.

CNY decorations

Photo Credit: Kittikun Atsawintarangkul

Bearing this in mind, a Chinese New Year-themed party for 2012 could feature red decorations such as streamers and lanterns as well as dragon-themed party pieces. The dress code for the night should preferably be red.

Chinese New Year food

The kind of food served really depends on the type of party you’ll be throwing. Fish is considered an auspicious food, as it is a homophone for prosperity. It is usually served steamed or as part of a colourful vegetable salad called Yu Sheng, which is tossed for luck by the diners before eating. The act of tossing is called Lo Hei, and is believed to increase luck for the year.

Cookies like pineapple tarts are also commonly served or given during house visits on Chinese New Year. For better grinding and blending of ingredients, use blenders like the Electrolux EBR2001 or its large capacity built-in that ovens will also help cut down on preparation time by allowing you to bake more cookies at once.

Roast chicken and duck are commonly served at reunion dinners held on Chinese New Year’s Eve. If you’re so inclined, you can roast your own duck at home with this recipe from Electrolux professional chef Daniel Menezes, which can be done with your own built-in oven.

Dessert can take the form of Nian Gao, a sweet sticky cake that is served either fried or steamed. If you lack the time to make it from scratch, Nian Gao is commonly sold in shops in countries which celebrate Chinese New Year.

Nian Gao

Photo Credit: avlxyz

Chinese New Year playlist

There are several tunes popularly associated with Chinese New Year. Gong Xi Gong Xi (Wishing or blessing), Xin Nian Hao (Happy New Year) and Gong Xi Fa Cai (Wishing you prosperity) are commonly heard throughout the season. Here are some free samples of these tunes.

Chinese New Year Swag

Married Chinese commonly give children and single visitors younger than them a red envelop with money, called Hong Bao. For the purposes of your party, if Chinese tradition doesn’t apply to you, a red packet containing small door gifts or party favours could help get guests in the mood and make the atmosphere more lively.

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