Many Chinese has a hair cut a few days or a week before the New Year. It is said that washing or cutting your hair on a New Year day brings bad luck. I found this out from my hairdresser who said that the salon tends to be extra busy during the Chinese New Year. It seems that a superstition actually brings good business for hair salons.
One of special foods that is only available during the New Year celebration is Niangao, a Chinese New Year cake. It is made of glutinous rice flour, wheat starch, salt, water and sugar. There are 2 ways of cooking these that I know of. My side of family loves to have these fried after dipped into a mixture of beaten eggs. My husband family loves to have these steamed and then cover them with coconut sprinkles (steamed them first). Either way, they are delicious!
As part of the tradition, a big family dinner is held on the New Year's Eve, usually in or near the home of senior member of the family. This year, we went to our favorite restaurant, Din Tai Fung. I took a snap of the last dish (see below). As Chinese restaurants tend to get busy for this special occasion, a reservation made weeks prior is highly recommended.
Red packets or red envelopes which typically contain money are distributed during the New Years celebration. It is a customary practice for married couple to hand out these good luck packets to the younger non-married children of the family. Children wish elders a happy new year before accepting the red envelope. As an employer, we also give red packets to our employees.
According to Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the Year of the Horse, specifically wood horse.
One of the interpretation of the Year of the Horse I found on the internet:
People born in the Year of the Horse are clever, kind, animated and energetic. Although they sometimes talk too much, they are cheerful, perceptive, talented and love to be in the centre of a crowd. They are popular among friends, active at work and have a deft sense of humour.
2014 is the year of the Wooden Horse. Wood Horses are strong and stable and have a better ability to make decisions. Excellent at interacting with others, they are successful personally and professionally.
Believe it or not? I let you to decide :-)
Here is a picture of Horse Buns served at Din Tai Fung. Aren't they adorable? Too cute to be eaten but I had no choice. These buns were filled with Taro and Red Beans. Yummy!