Chinese New Year Celebrations Offer New Cultural Adventures for Families to Learn about This Holiday
Introduce Your Family to a New Culture with the Celebration of Chinese New Year
Opportunities to introduce your children to a new culture come along with international holidays and celebrations that other cultures celebrate in their communities within the United States. Chinese New Year begins on January 28, 2017, and the celebration will continue for the next 15 days. This is the Year of the Rooster. The Chinese calendar celebrates a new animal each year, and it is always fun for family members to find their birthday and a corresponding animal that matches the year that they were born. Chinese New Year is the most important holiday celebration in the Chinese calendar.
Chinese New Year is the start of the lunar year for the Asian culture. The celebrations honor Heaven, Earth, and ancestors. It is a celebration of family and thanksgiving for blessings. Families begin with a huge feast on the eve of Chinese New Year. Dumplings, fried rice, spring rolls, chicken wings, and drumsticks are only a sampling of the foods that are part of the family feast. Tasty cakes and desserts are also a part of the celebration. Children can be a part of preparing simple dishes for the feast. Using traditional cookware such as a wok is always a fun concept to use in the kitchen with children. A recipe follows that is simple for children to participate in preparing.
Steamed Chinese New Year Cake
2 cups of water (more for steaming) 2 tablespoons regular oil
1 lb. package Chinese brown sugar 2 teaspoons almond extract
1 lb. sweet rice flour (3 cups) 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
Instructions: Place measured water and brown sugar in a medium saucepan with medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved. Do not boil. Let cool until warm to the touch. Fill a 14-inch wok with a 1 1/2 inch water. Place a 12-inch bamboo steamer inside. Use a large frying pan if you do not have a wok. Simmer the water over medium heat. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with vegetable oil and set aside. Place rice flour in a mixing bowl. Mix with a mixer at low speed, pouring sugar in slowly, and beat until smooth about 2 minutes. add measured oil and continue beating until the batter is smooth and the oil is incorporated. Add the almond extract and beat until incorporated. Pour the mixture into a prepared pan. Place the pan into a bamboo steamer or on top of the foil in the frying pan. Cover the bamboo steamer and steam until the cake is firm (3 hours). Check every hour. Garnish with dates while the cake is still warm. Serve with the sesame side up.
The Chinese tradition is to celebrate with delicious round food in celebration of the moon. Matthews 1812 offer a variety of handmade desserts that include round-shaped sweet treats. Bourbon, Pecan torte, Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies, and Toffee Cashew Cookies are just a few of the company's offerings. You may find treats for Chinese New Year by visiting their website at http://1812house.com.
Round Moon Cakes Celebrate the Moon for Chinese New Year
Chinese Almond Cookies
Another great choice for a sweet treat to celebrate Chinese New Year are the round almond cookies. This child-friendly recipe is simple to prepare for the holiday.
1 cup vegetable shortening 1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract pinch of salt
3 cups all-purpose flour 1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water Whole almonds for garnish
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Grease two baking sheets. Beat 1 cup vegetable shortening with 1 cup granulated sugar until creamy. Beat in 1 tablespoon almond extract and a pinch of salt, then beat in 3 cups all-purpose flour, a little at a time until the dough is ready. The dough will be crumbly. shape spoonfuls of dough into flat, round cookies, 2 inches in diameter. The edges will have cracks. Transfer to prepared pans. Beat together 1 egg yolk and 2 tablespoons water and brush on top of the cookies. Press pieces of almonds into the center of the cookies. Bake for 30 minutes until slightly golden. Cool slightly and transfer to a wire rack to cool fully. Store in an airtight container. This recipe makes 4 dozen cookies.
The Color Red Celebrates Chinese New Year
Red is the honored color for Chinese New Year. The custom of using red envelopes to place "lucky money" is a family custom that children participate in. Children greet their parents early in the morning after New Years' eve and wish them a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year. Parents present children with red envelopes containing coins or even paper money for good luck. Families are also using the company Stockpile, that allows people to purchase gift cards in affordable denominations of $25, $50, and $100 to place inside red envelopes for the celebration. These cards are available in 14,000 retail and grocery locations nationwide. You may visit the company website at www.stockpile.com.
The company Violet Love, offers red headbands for both children and adults in a variety of shades of red. Families with infants also can find red bibs and and cloth diapers to help the little ones bring in Chinese New year. You may find red bibs and diapers at www.bumkins.com.
Babies Ring In Chinese New Year with Red Cloth Diapers
Family Customs for Chinese New Year
What special customs do you have to personalize Chinese New Year for your family?
You Don't Have to be Asian to Celebrate Chinese New Year
I taught Chinese children in a private preschool and kindergarten for 6 years. I always celebrated Chinese New Year with the children in my class. It was often amusing to me to discover that some of the young parents no longer celebrated Chinese New Year in our country. They always appreciated the fact that I celebrated the holiday in the classroom to teach their children about some of the customs of the holiday.
Do you as a young Chinese family in the United States today celebrate Chinese New Year?