Wednesday 17 February 2021

Year of the Ox

Kung Hei Fat Choy! I used to live near Chinatown in Toronto and always enjoyed the celebratory atmosphere in the darkness of winter, late Jan or early Feb. When we moved to Ireland we decided to appropriate the celebration of the lunar new year, certainly because evenings are still dark at this time of year, but also because we like having an excuse to celebrate with good food and learn something about another culture. We decorate the house, and adhere to certain rituals of cleaning and luck. I blogged here about the celebration we had with my Mum in 2016, before her death a few months later.

A number of years ago, I bought a Chinese cookbook and tried quite a few of the recipes. We always start our meal with a Phoenix Tail salad (a display of raw vegetables and egg slices arranged to resemble the extraordinary tail of this mythical bird) and sesame soy dip. I have given details of how to make this dip and arrange the salad on a previous blog, here. I also make Szechuan cucumbers annually to accompany this meal. I was delighted last year when I gave a jar of these pickles to my friend from Hong Kong and she reported back that they were both delicious and authentic! I blogged about them and give the recipe here.

Because the celebration this year was so close to Valentine's Day, we interspersed our Chinese decorations with red paper hearts. Click here for more information about the traditions surrounding the lunar new year.

We originally got this elaborate decoration in the Year of the Dog, some years back, when visiting family in Prague. We  were invited to dinner by friends whom we had met on previous visits. Our child loved the Chinese decoration (New Year was over) and was given it as a keepsake. We have kept it since, just making our own appropriate designs annually to cover up the dogs! In a previous blog I have shown a Year of the Pig cover up, but I also posted a picture of the full decoration.

This year, as well as having our fabulous Chinese New Year feast, we also logged on to China Spirit for a zoom celebration. China Spirit is located physically in Wallesley, UK, but we were made aware of the organisation when they were offering free tai ch'i classes by zoom during the spring 2020 lockdown. We have just found out that they received National Lottery Funding (UK) to offer free zoom classes again and those tai ch'i classes start next week. Hurray! Happy New Year!

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