Monthly Archives: February 2014

Gung Hei Fat Choy

Chinese New Year – January 31

Chinese New Year typically falls during late January or early February.

The Chinese calendar is partially based on the phases of the moon and is also referred to as the Lunar New Year. It’s celebrated in countries where there is a large population of Chinese. Having been raised in a large, extended Chinese family, we’ve always known the celebration as Chinese New Year.

In China, the full celebration lasts a full 15 days. However growing up in New York we didn’t have the luxury of sitting it out for the full holiday.

Our’s was an acknowledgement of our Chinese heritage. We would drive from our home in the suburbs to Chinatown in the heart of New York City to experience the colorful dragon dance and ear-shattering fire crackers. We hosted a gathering with as many relatives that were able to travel to my Grandmother’s (Paw Paw) house. Paw Paw would prepare two or three special dishes unique to the holiday. We trekked in a small procession from the house to the cemetery carrying a boiled chicken, oolong tea and burning incense to honor our deceased ancestors. The chicken and the tea came back to the house and were served with a dozen other traditional home-cooked dishes at an elaborate family meal. Afterwards, the elders passed red envelopes containing dollar bills or silver dollars as gifts to all of the unmarried children. As children we were elated.

Delicious dishes like this one would grace our kitchen table as dozens of relatives surrounded us younger kids. These dishes were only for special occasions.
The adults gifted the children these little red envelopes filled with dollar bills and/or silver dollars.

This was a time to visit with uncles, aunts and cousins. This was a time for hugs and kisses. This was a time to leave the bad fortune behind. And this was especially a time to wish good fortune to everyone.

For us, January 31, 2014 is no different from other years. We continue to celebrate Chinese New Year as we have since I can remember. And while Paw Paw passed long ago, the food aromas from her kitchen of fifty or more years past remain familiar to me today.

It’s our sincere hope that good fortune will continue to bless our grateful family and all of our friends during this new year.

So to all of our relatives and friends in the year of the horse – “Gung Hei Fat Choy.”