The Japanese New Year is on January 1st, which has come and gone.  The Chinese New Year based on the lunar calendar changes every year.  This year it falls on January 28, 2017.  In both countries, under the Chinese zodiac, it’s the year of the rooster, or as we say in Japanese, “Tori Doshi.”  They say persons born in the year of the rooster are generally intelligent and kind by nature and that they year of the rooster is considered to be a lucky year.  My father, born in the year of the rooster, was a very kind and intelligent man.  So, that part I can attest for.  Now, if 2017 will be lucky, we shall see.

The rooster, or cock, is considered to be strong as it fights well.   Also, because it crows at day break, it’s believed to scare away evil spirits of the night.  So, it’s our protector.  All positive and good signs.

Because the rooster is a beautiful bird, it can be seen used often in Japanese art.  At my tea lesson, my teacher even mentioned that the bird motif is very common while other Chinese zodiac animals such as snakes or rats are rarely depicted.  I can see why.  It’s hard to make a snake or mouse look beautiful as something to admire.

At New Years, symbolism plays a big part of Asian customs, especially in food.  We eat particular foods at this time of the year in hopes of good fortune and long life.  Even if you aren’t Asian, it’s easy to join the festivities through food.

Here are two easy foods that everyone can eat for prosperity in 2017.

  1.  Noodles to signify long life.  You have to eat long noodles that aren’t broken.  In Japan, we often eat soba noodles, but any kind of noodle if fine.  It’s the symbolism that counts.  So, go ahead and eat a bowl of ramen if you prefer.  The Chinese often eat fried noodles to keep them nice and long.
  2. Dumplings.  This comes from Northern China, where the shape of the dumpling symbolized silver ingots, which is an oblong shape.  Nowadays, some shape their dumplings like money bags.  Whatever the shape, it’s the symbol of wealth.  If you’re looking for a recipe, try this shrimp and cilantro dumpling recipe!  It’s wonderful.  If you don’t want to make your own, go out and get some good gyoza!  My go to dipping sauce nowadays is one part soy sauce and two parts balsamic vinegar, with a tad bit of chili paste.  Yum!

Join the fun and celebrate the New Year in an Asian cultural fashion!  Happy Chinese New Year.



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