The first new moon of the year arrives on Monday, Jan. 23, signaling the arrival of the Year of the Dragon. Get your "Gung Hay Fat Choy" ready because this auspicious greeting gets handled out in multiples, setting the tone for the Lunar/Chinese New Year.
With the new moon's arrival come many other exuberant celebrations rooted in centuries-old traditions. Lush red fabrics with gold accents, bang-loud red firecrackers and delicious savory foods all symbolize qualities like prosperity, happiness and new beginnings. Similar to New Year's resolutions, these traditions help celebrants envision the possibilities of the coming year.
Many of the traditions practiced in a Lunar New Year celebration revolve around symbolic sweet, salty and special foods. For those interested in a little cultural observance—and perhaps a boost of prosperity and luck for 2012—these are some of the more common New Year's items and dishes that can be found around Boise:
Chinese New Year cake is made of glutinous rice flour. It symbolizes fertility, long life and harmony. A very limited supply of these once-a-year desserts may be bought at the Orient Market at 4806 W. Emerald St. on the Bench or Asia Market at 9975 W. Fairview Ave. You can also find candied coconuts, red melon seeds and other New Year's treats at these stores.
The Lunar New Year is also a time when some celebrants go without meat. Long noodles and mushrooms symbolize long life, and both are used abundantly in vegetarian dishes during New Years celebrations. The Linh Thu'u Buddhist Meditation Temple on 2312 Overland Road will host festivities and offer vegetarian dishes starting at 7 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22. Between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m., the Temple will also host New Year's ceremonies.
Yen Ching Chinese Restaurant crafted a special Chinese New Year menu that includes white pepper shrimp, Kobe beef with fried garlic and shrimp with spicy tomato chili sauce. These and other dishes will be served starting on Monday, Jan. 23.
If you can't make it to any of the specialty stores or restaurants, go get some tangerines at your local grocery store. These juicy, sweet fruits are often abundantly displayed throughout the home in pairs as symbols of prosperity and luck.