Cantonese Lunar New Year Traditions

(KTSF by Susannah Lee)

Getting prepared for the Chinese New Year, many Cantonese people visit markets to buy candy, fruit, flowers, and red pastes for good fortune.

Traditionally, many families prepare special dim sum feasts for the New Year. A new bride from Hong Kong, Mei Kwan Tse, says ”I grew up watching my mother making new year dim sum, and so I am familiar with all the ingredients and recipes.” A typical dish is sweet steamed cakes which symbolize promotions. On her first Chinese New Year in the States, Tse plans to make a healthier version of this dish, as well as other dishes from her childhood.

In preparation of the New Year, many Cantonese clean their homes on the 28th day of the 12th month in the Lunar Calendar. Then, on the final day of the year, families gathers for a celebratory meal. On actual New Year’s Day, many people do not sweep, throw out trash, buy shoes, or wash their hair, because, as Tse notes, this would be akin to ‘sweeping and washing away good luck.’

One final tradition of the Cantonese New Year is distributing red envelopes with money inside to young, unmarried people as a sign of luck. People also make wishes for the coming year. Tse explains, ”My wishes for the new year are peace in the world, happiness, and health for my family.”

(Copyright 2012 KTSF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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