Hakkasan Restaurant » Chinese New Year http://hakkasan.com Hakkasan Restaurant serves Michelin Star awarded Cantonese Cuisine Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:35:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Welcoming the Year of the Rooster http://hakkasan.com/blog/welcoming-the-year-of-the-rooster/ http://hakkasan.com/blog/welcoming-the-year-of-the-rooster/#comments Fri, 06 Jan 2017 11:37:53 +0000 http://hakkasan.com/?p=9364 Following the chaotic Year of the Monkey, the Year of the Rooster is predicted to bring fresh and exciting challenges requiring practical solutions and good old-fashioned hard work. From 2016, the Year of the Red Monkey… The Year of the Monkey – the monkey being a typically quick-tempered and hyperactive character – brought with it […]

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Following the chaotic Year of the Monkey, the Year of the Rooster is predicted to bring fresh and exciting challenges requiring practical solutions and good old-fashioned hard work.

From 2016, the Year of the Red Monkey…

The Year of the Monkey – the monkey being a typically quick-tempered and hyperactive character – brought with it surprises, both good and bad.

For many, 2016 felt exhausting. The monkey is associated with contradictory and conflicting traits: on the one hand, the Chinese phrase that translates as monkey is “anxious”, while on the other, its word origin points to a cleverness and a refusal to jump into precarious situations. This tension was arguably felt throughout the year.

The year 2016 was influenced by both the fire element and the zodiac sign of the monkey. The inventive and clever monkey combined with the passionate characteristics of fire heralded a year of adventure, resolve, will, and innovation.

… To 2017, the Year of the Fire Rooster

The tenth sign of the Chinese zodiac, the rooster is recognised for being hardworking and diligent; it awakens with the dawn of its own intuition, and welcomes in the new day.

2017 is also associated with the fire element. Fire, by its very nature, is brilliant, warm and passionate. When combined with the feisty, proud and confident rooster, the year looks set to be one of resolve and achievements.

It could be a breathless year, with people feeling a desire to get things done immediately. It will also be a year of focus and commitment, with fresh challenges ahead and no middle of the road when it comes to moving forward. This year, impressions count: the rooster is celebrated for its love of beautiful things.

Discover the limited edition menus here.

 

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The symbolism inherent in Chinese New Year cuisine http://hakkasan.com/blog/the-symbolism-inherent-in-chinese-new-year-cuisine/ http://hakkasan.com/blog/the-symbolism-inherent-in-chinese-new-year-cuisine/#comments Tue, 16 Feb 2016 18:02:14 +0000 http://hakkasan.com/?p=5793 The many celebrations during Chinese New Year focus on family reunion, with people travelling across the country to visit the provinces they grew up in and the families they grew up with. Many of these festivities centre on food, from the symbolism of each ingredient used in the celebratory dishes to the culinary rituals associated […]

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The many celebrations during Chinese New Year focus on family reunion, with people travelling across the country to visit the provinces they grew up in and the families they grew up with.

Many of these festivities centre on food, from the symbolism of each ingredient used in the celebratory dishes to the culinary rituals associated with the festival, all deeply rooted in Chinese culture.

Much of the symbolism inherent in Chinese cuisine stems from the homophones associated with each food. While all languages have homophones, they are especially prevalent in Chinese, and they play an important role in the culture of the country.

This is wholly evident in the food eaten around Chinese New Year, when certain dishes are enjoyed not only for their taste but for the symbolism associated with them: each dish represents a particular wish or hope for the coming year.

Jiaozi

With a history of more than 1,800 years, jiaozi, or Chinese dumplings, are traditionally made and eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve, especially in the northern provinces of China.

The dumplings, often shaped to look like boat-shaped silver ingots, an ancient Chinese currency, are symbolic of prosperity and wealth due to their auspicious shape.

In some provinces it is customary to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve to enjoy jiaozi. It is usually served with little other than garlic and soy sauce, and often a coin will be stuffed into one of the dumplings for one of the family members to find: this person will be considered to have the luckiest year ahead.

Tangyuan

Similarly to jiaozi, tangyuan are dumplings that are enjoyed during the Chinese New Year festival. However, that is where the similarities end.

Tangyuan are made from glutinous rice flour usually filled with sesame or red bean paste and served in the sweet broth that they are cooked in. They’re traditionally eaten in the southern provinces of China where rice flour is more common, and they are eaten at the end rather than at the beginning of the Spring Festival celebrations, usually during the Lantern Festival.

They symbolise family reunion, as their name is a homophone for reunion, and their round shape symbolises togetherness.

Yu

Fish is often eaten at Chinese New Year, and it is an ingredient that is celebrated because of its auspicious homophones.

In Chinese, the word for fish sounds like ‘surplus’, and this is an important element for many people to have throughout the year. It is also significant to choose a certain fish based on these homophones; for example, the first character of the word for ‘crucian carp’ sounds like the Chinese word for ‘good luck’, and so therefore eating this fish is considered to bring fortune in the coming year.

It is also crucial that the fish is eaten in a certain way. It should be the last dish left at the meal and there should be some left over, as this represents surplus being available every year. This tradition is practiced north of the Yangtze River, but in other areas the head and tail shouldn’t be eaten until the very beginning of the year, expressing the hope that the year will start and finish with surplus.

Nian gao 

Nian gao, or ‘year cake’, is a sticky rice cake which represents prosperity; the words ‘nian gao’ sounds like ‘getting higher year on year’, and this symbolises raising oneself taller in each coming year.

The Chinese word nian, meaning ‘sticky’, sounds like the word for ‘year’, while the word ‘gao’ meaning ‘cake’ is identical in sound to 高, which means ‘tall’.

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Shēngxiào and the Year of the Monkey http://hakkasan.com/blog/shengxiao-and-the-year-of-the-monkey/ http://hakkasan.com/blog/shengxiao-and-the-year-of-the-monkey/#comments Tue, 05 Jan 2016 16:53:53 +0000 http://hakkasan.com/?p=5350 Chinese New Year is widely associated with the ancient Chinese zodiac Shēngxiào. With similarities to some aspects of Western astrology, Shēngxiào, or “birth likeness”, attributes and relates an animal sign to each year in a cycle of 12 years. According to some historians, the animals connected to the Chinese zodiac were brought from China via […]

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Chinese New Year is widely associated with the ancient Chinese zodiac Shēngxiào. With similarities to some aspects of Western astrology, Shēngxiào, or “birth likeness”, attributes and relates an animal sign to each year in a cycle of 12 years.

According to some historians, the animals connected to the Chinese zodiac were brought from China via the Silk Road route, the trade route that connected the West to the East. However, others believe that the zodiac predates Buddhism and has its origins in the early Chinese astrology that used the planet Jupiter as a constant due to its 12 year orbital period around the earth.

While its exact origins are inconclusive, there are many different legends and folk stories relating to the Chinese zodiac, varying from region to region much like the country’s diverse cuisine. The most popular of these stories, which differs depending on who is telling the story, is known as “The Great Race”.

It said in one version that the Buddha, or in some stories the Jade Emperor, sent an invitation to all of the animals in the kingdom to attend a Great Race which would decide the twelve animals that would be included in the zodiac.

Cat and Rat were good friends so they decided to travel to meet the Buddha together. As they were both bad swimmers, and the race included crossing a mighty river, they devised a clever plan to ride to victory on the back of the strongest of the animals, Ox, across the rapid and dangerous currents.

Just as they were in sight of the shore, Rat pushed Cat into the river, before jumping to shore ahead of Ox and winning the race. This explains why the cat hates water and is the sworn enemy of the rat.

The third animal to cross the river was Tiger. Though ferociously powerful, Tiger was defied first or second place by the powerful river’s currents.

Rabbit took fourth place, who had been blown to shore on a log he had climbed on after he had run out of river stones to hop across. This animal is recognised as extremely lucky.

It was Dragon who had blown the giant puff of air which essentially blew Rabbit’s log to shore. As one of the only flying animals, Dragon told the Buddha that he could have come first except that he had to stop to make rain for the people and creatures of the earth. He had then taken pity on the tiny rabbit, and had blown him to safety.

Horse arrived next, although hidden on his hoof was Snake, whose sudden appearance gave Horse a fright, thus making him fall back giving Snake the sixth spot in the zodiac while Horse came seventh.

Not long after, Sheep, Monkey and Rooster came to shore. The three animals helped each other to cross the mighty river on a raft discovered by Rooster. Together, Sheep and Monkey cleared the reeds and got the raft to shore. Because of their joint efforts, Sheep, Monkey and Rooster became the eighth, ninth and tenth animals of the zodiac respectively.

While Dog was the strongest swimmer, he couldn’t resist the temptation to play in the river, although he excused himself to the Buddha saying that he needed a bath. Because of this, he took eleventh place.

Just as the Buddha was about to call it a day and close the Great Race, a squealing was heard from the shore. Pig had gotten hungry and stopped for a snack and a short nap. Even though he was late, he had arrived before the end of the race, so he took the final twelfth place.

The first day of the Chinese calendar in 2016 is Monday 8th February, welcoming the Year of the Monkey.

Those who are born in the Year of the Monkey are naturally curious, mischievous and clever. Forever playful, monkeys are the masters of pranks and practical jokes. Their intentions are always good, although they can hurt feelings due to their spirited tendencies.

This year also heralds a fire year. The Taoist theory of the Five Elements describes the interaction and relation between yin and yang using symbols representing dynamic processes. Fire symbolises embodiment, definition, action, movement and design.

The Fire Monkey is the most active and aggressive of the monkeys. A person born in this year will be naturally dominant, gravitating towards leadership roles and excelling in competitive sport. Flamboyant and charming, the Fire Monkey will have a large social circle and won’t be afraid to take risks.

The Year of the Monkey, especially the Fire Monkey, is a year that anything can happen. Its playful influence means that there’s no use making plans. It’s a year of accomplishment, with a lightning fast pace and motivation. The monkey increases communication, humour and wit, meaning that adversity will be overcome with grace and ease. It also means that those who dare to be different can be extremely successful.

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Lantern Festival http://hakkasan.com/blog/lantern-festival/ http://hakkasan.com/blog/lantern-festival/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 15:09:27 +0000 http://hakkasan.com/?p=3675 The annual Lantern Festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar year, and marks the final day of the Chinese New Year festivities. During the festival, people get together to celebrate the beginning of Spring by lighting lanterns, watching fireworks and eating yuanxiao (or tangyuan), sweet stuffed glutinous rice […]

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The annual Lantern Festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar year, and marks the final day of the Chinese New Year festivities. During the festival, people get together to celebrate the beginning of Spring by lighting lanterns, watching fireworks and eating yuanxiao (or tangyuan), sweet stuffed glutinous rice dumplings. This year the Lantern Festival falls on Thursday, 5th March.

Lanterns

The main event of the Lantern Festival is the lighting of the lanterns, and this activity originated during the reign of Emperor Hanmingdi (58-75 BC). Historically, the lanterns owned by the majority of the common people were simple with very minimal design. Only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate lanterns. However, during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the most prosperous period in Chinese history, the Lantern Festival was celebrated on a much larger scale, and it is at this time that the festival evolved into a country-wide party. It is said that during the reign of Emperor Tangxuanzong, 50,000 lanterns were lit in Xian City, the capital of the Tang Dynasty.

The lanterns are almost always red, as the color is symbolic of good fortune and prosperity in China. Nowadays, the lanterns vary in shape and size, occasionally created in the form of animals, insects, flowers, people and even machines and buildings. Others depict scenes from popular stories teaching traditional values. In Taiwan, the lanterns represent brightness and birth, which is why women who want to be pregnant often walk underneath hanging lanterns while praying for a child.

Origins and customs

The festival, although not a nationwide public holiday, is one of China’s more significant dates, and it can be traced back to the Han Dynasty more than 2,000 years ago.

There are many alternative stories and beliefs relating to the Lantern Festival’s origins.

One story suggests that the holiday is attributed to Taiyi, the ancient god of heaven. The belief is that the God of Heaven controlled the destiny of the human world. He had sixteen dragons at his beck and call, and decided when to inflict drought, storms, famine or pestilence upon humans. Emperor Qinshihuang, who first united China, held the first Lantern Festival to ask Taiyi for good weather and fortune.

Another common explanation for the Lantern Festival is rooted in Taoism. One story centers on the Jade Emperor, whose favorite crane flew down to Earth and was subsequently hunted and killed. The Jade Emperor was furious, and planned a firestorm as retribution. However, the emperor’s daughter was kind and warned the villagers first. A wise man from a neighbouring village suggested that the villagers hang red lanterns outside their homes, make bonfires and light firecrackers, to give the illusion that the village had already burned to the ground. On the day of retaliation, the Jade Emperor was tricked into thinking the village was ablaze, and the villagers escaped without tragedy.

Lantern riddles (cai deng mi)

An essential part of Lantern Festival celebrations include guessing lantern riddles. These riddles are attached to the lanterns and are often very challenging, some similar to English riddles and others based on the construction of Chinese characters or referring to traditional poetry. The person who answers the riddle correctly usually wins a small prize.

Yuanxiao

Throughout the festival, people eat yuanxiao (or tangyuan), and the Lantern Festival is sometimes referred to as the Yuanxiao Festival. The sticky rice flour dumplings are sweet, often stuffed with red bean paste, sesame paste or crushed peanuts. The name tangyuan in Chinese has a similar pronunciation to tuanyuan which means ‘reunion’, so people believe the dumplings signify union, harmony and happiness for the family. It is also believed that the round shape of the yuanxiao and the bowls in which they are served symbolise family togetherness, and eating the dumplings may bring happiness and good luck in the New Year.

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Chinese New Year, the Year of the Sheep http://hakkasan.com/blog/chinese-new-year-year-of-the-sheep/ http://hakkasan.com/blog/chinese-new-year-year-of-the-sheep/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 12:54:15 +0000 http://hakkasan.com/?p=3643 Chinese New Year, known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, is one of the most auspicious dates of the Chinese calendar. It is celebrated at the turn of the Chinese lunar calendar, and therefore the date differs each year. This year Chinese New Year falls on Thursday, February 19th, although traditionally festivities run […]

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Chinese New Year, known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, is one of the most auspicious dates of the Chinese calendar. It is celebrated at the turn of the Chinese lunar calendar, and therefore the date differs each year. This year Chinese New Year falls on Thursday, February 19th, although traditionally festivities run from Chinese New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival, a festival that concludes New Year, on the 15th day of the first month.

Celebrations

While Chinese New Year is celebrated across China and in many neighbouring territories such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia amongst others, regional customs and traditions concerning celebrations vary widely.

For instance, a reunion dinner known as Nian Ye Fan 年夜饭 will be held for family members on Chinese New Year’s Eve, but the food served at this meal will differ depending on where in China it is being celebrated, although most dinners will include a whole chicken, symbolising prosperity, togetherness and joy, and a whole fish, symbolising abundance of money. In fact, the Chinese phrase “may there be surplus every year” sounds the same as “may there be fish every year”.

In some countries of Southeast Asia, Chinese New Year is considered to be one of the most important holidays of the year, with the biggest celebrations taking place in Malaysia and Singapore. In Singapore there is an annual street parade, well-known for its colorful floats and performances. Similarly, the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees in Hong Kong draw many a visitor – local and tourist – to throw oranges up into their branches for good luck.

The Year of the Sheep

The Chinese lunar calendar is associated with the Shēngxiào, or Chinese zodiac. This year is the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat or Ram).

The sheep is recognised as one of the animals of the zodiac that people like the most; gentle and calm, the sheep is unable to walk backwards or sideways and so continues plodding onwards, indicating that 2015 will be a year that people will progress, slowly yet steadily.

The sheep is also the eighth zodiac animal, making it one of the most auspicious signs; eight is one of the luckiest numbers in China, symbolising peace and wealth.

Mythology

According to ancient Chinese folklore, a mythical beast called the Nian would visit a small village in China at the beginning of New Year and terrorise the people, eating livestock, crops and even villagers, especially children. However, it was soon discovered that the Nian hated both the colour red and loud noises. From then on every Chinese New Year’s Eve, families hang red banners from their houses, decorate the streets with red lanterns and let off loud firecrackers in order to scare the Nian away.

Symbolism

Red is the predominant color used in Chinese New Year celebrations. It symbolises virtue, truth and sincerity, and is seen as joyful.

Red envelopes, known as ‘lai see’ in Cantonese and ‘hong bao’ in Mandarin, are often presented at social and family gatherings during Chinese New Year to children or unmarried and unemployed adults. The red color of the envelope symbolises good luck and is supposed to ward off evil spirits.

Typically, the envelopes contain money. The amount of money given usually ends in an even number, as off-numbered money gifts are traditionally associated with funerals. There is also a widespread tradition that money should not be given in fours, or the number four should not appear in the amount (such as 40 and 404) as the pronunciation of the word ‘four’ sounds like that of the word for ‘death’ and thus signifies bad luck.

Hakkasan will be offering all guests who dine from the signature Chinese New Year menu a red envelope containing a gift. This will be accompanied by a red wishing ribbon, and guests will be encouraged to share their wishes for 2015 before hanging the ribbon on the latticed woodwork in the restaurants. These wishes will be shared on the Hakkasan Wishes Instagram page and Chinese New Year website.

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