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It's the Chinese New Year of the Black Water Snake

Take this Opportunity to Add Good Luck to the Year Ahead

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A Symbolic Cake for the 2013 Chinese New Year

Snake Cake

Christine Feit

The Chinese astrologic calendar follows a 12-year lunar pattern, with each year assigned to a particular animal, always following the same order. Since this New Year follows the lunar cycle, it falls on a different date each year. In 2013 the New Year falls on February 10, and the celebrations last for two weeks. The zodiac animal assigned to this particular year in the twelve-year cycle is the black water snake. This New Year, like all others, presents us with an opportunity to make a fresh start in our lives and to clear out the old things and habits that aren't working for us.

There are many customs associated with the Chinese New Year that are designed to bring good fortune in the upcoming year. For example:

Thoroughly clean your home in the days leading up to the New Year to sweep away bad luck.

Once the New Year begins, don't clean your home because you don't want to sweep away the good luck.

In order to establish a peaceful home for the coming year, don't cry or raise your voice on that day, which includes not yelling at your children.

Visit as many family and friends as you can during the New Year in order to wish one another good luck for the coming year. That's where hosting a celebration for the Chinese New Year, whether or not you're Chinese, is a good idea during this period. Here's how to host your Chinese New Year Celebration in 2013:

Setting the Stage

Decorate your home in red which is considered a lucky color by the Chinese. A red table cloth, red napkins, plates, or any other red table ware would be appropriate. Party stores carry special red party goods for the Chinese New Year at this time of the year.

Feature the snake, the zodiak animal for this year by including snake decorations at your party. For example:

Involve your children in your party preparations. Have them create many of these spiral snakes and hang them in your doorway to welcome guests to your party.

  • Hang plush or rubber snakes over your buffet.
  • Coil a rubber snake on each place setting that your guests can then take home as a party favor.
  • Strew gummy snakes as edible confetti on your table.
  • Make a snake theme cake to use as a centerpiece for your party.

Planning the Menu

When you plan your Chinese New Year party menu, you'll want to include as many lucky Chinese food ingredients as you can. According to our Chinese Food Guide Rhonda Parkinson, there are two ways ingredients can be perceived as lucky by the Chinese. One way is by the shape of the food and what it symbolizes, the other is the way the name of the food and what it sounds like. Here is a menu for your Chinese New Year based on a variety of these ingredients.

Spring Rolls with Pork and Shrimp - Serve these popular appetizers at your Chinese New Year party as their shape is a symbol of gold or silver bullion and represent wealth.

Lion's Head Meatballs - The oversized meatballs represent the lion head, a symbol of power and strength while the bok choy in the recipe is symbolic of the mane. The entire dish is a symbol of family reunion according to Rhonda.

Longevity Noodles - Symbolic of the wish for a long life, this noodles are served at the New Year, with the warning not to cut them!

White Cut Chicken - Add this easy chicken dish to your party since it needs to be made hours before your party. A whole chicken is symbolic of wholeness and prosperity.

Buddha's Delight - This is a vegetarian dish that is traditionally served on New Year's Day and is filled with symbolism, including the fact that vegetables are considered purifying.

Serve slices of oranges and tangerines as their names sound like luck and wealth.

Bake snake shape cookies to add to your dessert buffet.

Party Favor Ideas

In addition to passing out rubber snakes as party favors, it would also be appropriate to send guests home with a fortune cookie as another party favor.

Happy Chinese New Year!

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