Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Chinese New Year To Remember

I am one of those people who get kind of down after Christmas, without anything to look forward to until Valentine's Day. But then I discovered Chinese New Year.

This holiday usually falls on a date that suits the after-holiday blahs perfectly. This year, it will be January 29th and will begin the Year of the Dog. Just enough time to plan an event, yet not too soon after the traditional American New Year's festivities.

The Chinese have lots of wonderful New Year traditions. For many years, my husband and I have organized a mixed bag of friends to join us at our favorite Chinese Restaurant for a celebration. We order an appropriate number of dishes, served family style. Everyone pays their own way.

The preparations are the most fun for me. Of course, there's a floral arrangement for the long table. Decorations relate to the animal who is chosen for the new year. In the past we have also added paper dragons hanging from the ceiling.

While we wait to be served, we look over printed information about what animal our birth year represents. There's lots of information to download at
Each animal has characteristics that are supposedly reflected in the person with whom the animal shares a year. Dogs, of course, are loyal.

I buy red envelopes and visit the bank for crisp, new bills. The Chinese gift young, single adults and children with money in red envelopes to insure them of good fortune in the new year. We bend the tradition a little by gifting the servers who take care of us, even though they are adults and usually married.

I researched the internet to find fortunes and we made up a few of our own. My favorite, "A man wrapped up in himself is a small package." Then we hand folded tiny origami (Japanese) envelopes and folded the small fortunes inside. Each of our guests chooses a fortune from a red enamel bowl and reads it to the gathering. It is sometimes strange how appropriate the fortunes are to those who receive them.

The restaurant staff seems to enjoy the event as much as the guests.

It takes a little time and coordination, but gives everyone something new to look forward to when the trees and candles have disappeared. Give it a try to brighten your January.
Check the main website for fortunes, graphics and floral ideas.


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