Hello everyone, and happy new year in the lunar calendar! This year, it's the year of the dragon, which means that according to tradition, this will be a year of progression, perseverance and auspiciousness.
Song of the day: Love You More And More by Fahrenheit (opening theme to Superstar Express/To Get Her! ^^)
For those of you that don't know, legend has it that back in the day, an Emperor decreed that there would be a race for all animals in order to determine which animals would be included in a calendar of years. There were only enough spaces for twelve animals, and the race involved crossing a river as the final obstacle.
At that time, the Cat and the Rat were good friends and rode on the back of the Ox, who had set off early because he was slow. However, when they got to the river, the sneaky Rat pushed the Cat off and jumped onto the shore, backstabbing everyone but earning his place as the first animal. But at least the Ox's efforts weren't wasted, for he came second. The Tiger came third, and the Rabbit fourth after finding some stones to hop across. Fifth was the Dragon, who had watered the land by spreading rain which slowed him down - he'd also helped the rabbit across. The Snake came sixth by sneaking a ride on the Horse and then scaring the Horse enough to steal the Horse's rightful place. The Sheep, Monkey and Rooster all worked together to build a raft, and earned their respective eighth, ninth and tenth places. The Dog came eleventh, having been distracted by playing in the water, and long afterwards, the Pig arrived, claiming twelfth. Unfortunately the Cat arrived too late, so now hates the Rat forever more!
There are many variations on the legend of the zodiac, but that's the one that I grew up with.
I've never celebrated Chinese New Year in China before but really want to, as it is by far the biggest festival in the Chinese calendar and tends to go on for AGES! There are lion dances, feasts, variety shows, fireworks, presents...the works! For me though, I've normally celebrated it with family and friend dinner parties. It is a tradition to eat dumplings, so when I started going to university, it was difficult for me to go home so I learned how to make dumplings and have done so every year now...apart from this one since all the people that I made them with have now left! :(
Going off-topic, today I went to Mill Road which is where all the Asian supermarkets are. I was planning on buying kimchi, pak choi, udon, sauces, rice snacks, biscuits, sweets, and whatever else I fancied at the time, but in one of the shops, when I got to the till, I realised that I'd left my card at home. CRINGE. I only had a fiver too, so I had to do the really embarrassing ritual of removing items from the shopping bag but still ended up being six pence short. Luckily, the woman let me off. I hope she took pity on my broken Mandarin and was in good spirits because it was CNY! So, the image above shows the only things that I managed to buy... :(
A present from my friends that I mentioned in my last post.
Normally, it's a tradition for us to receive little red envelopes of money from our relatives, but when I checked my pigeon hole today, there was no pocket money from the parents. Hoping something will come tomorrow...! ^^
I managed to take some in progress photos of my dinner preparations: udon soup and the dumplings I bought, so I'll put up a recipe for the udon soup...probably tomorrow.
Finally, before I sign off, want to know why firecrackers are so popular on Chinese New Year? Well, back in the day, once again, the world was dominated by monsters - a notable one was called Nian, who came out once a year on the same day to destroy villages and gobble up people. People lived in fear and marked the end of the year with the time Nian came out, hence why the word nian is year in Chinese. One day, a man proposed to light bamboo which was supposed to crackle really loudly and could therefore scare Nian away. It worked, and now, firecrackers are lit to reconstruct the crackling of the bamboo.
The end! :)