Chinese New Year 2017
Chinese New Year is arriving early this year! The biggest festival in the calendar for Chinese communities across the world, Saturday 28th January ushers in the Year of the Rooster. Also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the Chinese calendar, with festivities lasting for around 15 days.
Traditional festivities take place all over the globe, but we’ve highlighted some of the best spots in the country if you’re looking to celebrate this Chinese New Year in style. We’ve also put together a guide to eating Chinese cuisine at home and a few handy facts about the event itself.
Enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine at home
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people descend on key Chinese cuisine hotspots. But celebrating Chinese New Year can be just as fun at home, as long as you have something tasty to eat. If you’re looking to prepare a delicious dish for family or friends, we’ve put together a selection of our new favourite Chinese dishes for you to make at home. And because we want as many people as possible to get involved, all these recipes are suitable for vegans.
Get into the spirit of the occasion with our recipe for Chinese New Year Noodles and Marinated Tofu Pieces. They make for a simple but fantastic Friday night “fakeaway” – all the speed and convenience of a takeaway, but with the satisfaction of home cooked meal. Or how about our Spiced Plum Tofu with Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms – a beautifully colourful dish, served up with wilted Asian greens, kabocha squash and steamed rice.
An amazing combination of sweet and sour, our Char Siu Glazed Tofu with Pickled Vegetables & Steamed Rice is a delicious meal for 2 or 3 people, packed with desirable flavours and a delicious crunch. Or why not rustle up some Ginger, Chilli & Coriander Tofu Balls – served with a fiery wasabi mayonnaise dip, they work as an impressive canapé to share with friends or simply as an indulgent suppertime treat.
For more Chinese-inspired dishes, see our full recipe guide and save your own personal favourites to Pinterest. And if you would like to find out what other Cauldron fans are cooking up for Chinese New Year, check us out out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Chinese New Year customs
Based on lunar and solar calendars, the date of Chinese New Year varies each year, but always falls between late January and mid-February. Each year is represented by one of twelve animals, with 2017 designated Year of the Rooster.
Every year is also associated with one of five elements – specifically, this will be the year of the Fire Rooster. According to the Chinese Zodiac, people born this year are said to be honest, bright, communicative and ambitious.
It’s customary to clean your house thoroughly, ensuring bad luck from last year is removed. After that comes the fun part – decorating with as much red as possible! Red is key to Chinese New Year for two reasons – firstly, it is said to bring luck, and secondly, is is supposed to frighten away the monster Nian who is thought to come on New Year’s Eve! So expect to see offices, shops and restaurants decked out with red lanterns and paper cuttings.
And remember – if you’re heading out and about, “Happy New Year” in Cantonese is “San Nin Faai Lok” (pronounced san knee fy lock) and in Mandarin is “Xin Nian Kuai Le” (pronounced sing nee-ann koo-why ler). Join in and raise a smile!
Celebrations in London and across the UK
London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are the largest outside Asia. As always, the main focus of the city’s celebrations will be the free parade on Sunday January 29, which is set to start at 10am in Trafalgar Square, before teams of dancing lions and floats make their way into Chinatown.
This year, the parade’s theme is ‘China: Today & Yesterday’, celebrating the best of the past and present in Chinese culture. Shaftesbury Avenue boasts a stage with shows from local artists and performers, and over on Charing Cross Road you can expect martial arts displays and workshops.
Elsewhere in London, the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House and Gardens promises spectacular light installations and hand-made lanterns in the shape of animals and plants, and runs right up until the 26th February. The Chinese New Year Family Festival at the National Gallery takes places on Saturday 28th January, with further celebrations at the National Maritime Museum the following day. The V&A Museum of Childhood gets in on the action on 11th February, with performances and craft workshops.
Manchester still hosts one of the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside London, with thousands of red lanterns adorning the city’s shopping streets. The Dragon Parade, Chinatown Celebrations & Fireworks all take place on Sunday 29th January. You’ll also find The Lanterns of the Terracotta Warriors, The Travelling Light Circus and the Giant Chinese Golden Dragon – all taking place over the weekend. Meanwhile, Liverpool also has a jam-packed programme of events, with its famous Chinatown district offering traditional Chinese street food, fireworks, lantern-making workshops and fun fair rides.