Chinese New Year’s Eve also known as Reunion Day

Chinese New Year Dragon

Chinese New Year Dragon

In our series of blogs about the Chinese New Year festival traditions we move on to Reunion Day, which is on the last day before New Year i.e. New Year’s Eve as per the lunar calendar. This is a time when the whole family living in the household joins in eating a meal together. This can mean from grandparents down to the youngest siblings.This is a special meal, a very filling meal. It focuses on fish – fish move fast and are energetic. This is to symbolize life and energy. Then there are also traditional dishes with pork and chicken.

Offerings are made depending upon the traditions of the faith followed by the family. For Taoists, there is incense and fruit offered to the Gods and to ancestors, for Buddhists, there are similar offerings to both the Buddha and ancestors. These offerings are in thanks for previous years. Rice wine and tea are served.

A special New Year’s cake has been prepared during the old year, prior to the New Year. This sits on display prominently until the seventh day of the New Year.

Dinner is an exciting time for the children. It is time for them to receive “Red Packets”. Traditionally the packet contained a coin but these days it is likely to be a larger amount of money. The red packet gifts are given by the grandparents and parents to the children and symbolise a blessing for a long life.

Red packets, traditional fish, ingredients for pork and chicken dishes, incense, rice wine, Chinese teas and Chinese groceries are stocked at TANG The Asian Food Emporium, 185 Russell Street, Melbourne in readiness for the Chinese New Year Festival period.

Dragon Parades and loud, bright, vibrant firecrackers traditionally start in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve. These are to scare away unlucky spirits. In China, the day marks the commencement of a seven day holiday period. In Melbourne there are a number of Chinese New Year festivals, beginning in January and going through to March 1st in St. Albans, Richmond, Noble Park, Footscray, Springvale and Box Hill. In the city a Chinese New Year festival will begin in Chinatown on New Year’s Eve with a parade featuring the millennium dragon held on 22nd February in Chinatown and  a festival in Federation Square on 1st March. Details here

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