Kung Hei Fat Choy


Looking for inspiration for a new article, a famous Italian song casually catches my ear:

The passed year has now ended
but something still isn't quite right here
People go out seldom, including when there's a party
And there are those who have put sandbags into the windows
And some don't talk for an entire week
And those who have nothing to say
Don't matter much.

The late Lucio Dalla, a famous Bolognese singer-songwriter who died in 2012, wrote "The coming year" in 1978 but he certainly did not know how current those lines would be today. At that time Italy was a completely different country, socially and economically devastated by the years of lead [1], while Hong Kong, under the MacLehose administration, was preparing for a series of reforms in the fields of education, welfare and health that would have paved the way for its affirmation as a global city.


Hong Kong in 1978


Today, 43 years later and contrary to those times, we find ourselves in the same situation that reluctantly forces us, and a few days before the celebration of Chinese New Year, not to be able to go out in the evening and celebrate as we would have done a few years ago by attending the parade in Canton Road which, every year, with an explosion of colors, made us happy and welcomed the new lunar year of the calendar.


CNY parade in Canton Road


But, as we have always said, it is better not to dwell on the past but on the present; therefore, let's see together the meaning of this Lunar Calendar.

Those unfamiliar with oriental culture should know that this holiday is celebrated, as well as in China and Hong Kong, in many countries including Korea, Mongolia, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam (where it's called Tết Nguyên Ðán), Taiwan and Japan (where it was an official holiday until 1873), as well as in the countless Chinese communities around the world.

In the Lunar Calendar, every month begins at the same time as each new moon; consequently the starting date of the first month, and therefore of the New Year, can vary by about 29 days, coinciding with the second new moon after the winter solstice. This event can take place between January 21 and February 20 of our Gregorian calendar.

According to Chinese astrology, each year is marked by an animal sign and a terrestrial branch (地支 S, dìzhīP) which make up a cycle of 12 elements. The Chinese New Year marks the transition from one of these elements to another; therefore this will be the year of the ox.



But what does it mean to be born under one or the other sign? Is there a link between astrology which associates us with a certain zodiac sign?

Obviously the answer is yes! Those born under the sign of the ox should be patient and not very talkative individuals who, at the same time, inspire great confidence while those born under the sign of the mouse (the year we are leaving behind), would be charming, bewitching and hard workers ... We recommend to the latter: do not look in the mirror with admiration for yourself because we can see you! 

All kidding aside, as for every holiday, we also find here the typical dishes and the equally traditional good-luck practices such as the famous red envelope that is usually given by married couples to bachelor relatives and friends and which must contain an even number of coins or banknotes. Another custom, which usually closes the festivity, is the lantern festival, during which families go out through the city streets with lit and colored lanterns in their hands, leaving some lighted candles outside their homes so that the good spirits can find the way.


Lantern festival


And the culinary aspect? Of course, we couldn't forget the food! The most important convivial dinner takes place on New Year’s Eve, generally at the home of the oldest member of the family. The key word is "abundance" (mainly for superstitious reasons) and fish, chicken, the traditional "good luck" ravioli with the shape of an ingot, and mandarins (qumquat) can’t be missing. For those who have time, we recommend to visit the flower market at Victoria Park where you will find fragrant orchids and mandarin plants to decorate your home and ward off bad luck.

Qumquat tree


And Tablo? How are we preparing to welcome the new year of the ox? As lovers of cooking in all its forms, we are organizing a fantastic live on FB in a famous restaurant with a much loved chef who will tell us about her Chinese New Year, her story and her favourite dish. Who is it about? Surprise ... Stay connected and remember to activate notifications for our posts on Instagram, in a few days we will reveal the mystery!


Turn on notification for @tablostorehk


Kung Hei Fat Choy !!



[1] “Years of Lead”: Years of Lead (Italy) - Wikipedia

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