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( January 13, 2013) Scottsdale, AZ  Gung Hay Fa Choy is the most commonly heard phrase around the Chinese New Year.  It means “Good Fortune” which is interpreted as health, wealth, and happiness.  “Gung Shih Fa Chai” is the pronunciation in Mandarin while the prior is in Cantonese.  To say “Happy New Year” one would say “Sun Nin Fai Lok” in Cantonese and “Shih Nin Kwai Le” in Mandarin. 

The Chinese New Year is always celebrated with lots of Chinese food and items that are not always common during the rest of the calendar year.  Many dishes have symbolic meanings to them with color, texture, and names.  The description of a dish is as important as the taste of it since Chinese meanings are deep rooted and carry with them much folklore and superstition. 

Restaurants embrace this time of year because it is the one holiday that knows no compromise.  There is no holding back on festivities and expense in order to greet the New Year properly.  It is also an opportunity to share the most important holiday with the outside public and their guests.  There is much tradition and protocol to follow with this holiday but most importantly, it is a time to be happy and share all that which is good in your life with others.  Generosity is utmost important where others come first in the way that you share this time. 

The Chinese food tells much of the tale of the history of Chinese culture.  Buddha’s delight is an example of a totally vegetarian dish that is eaten on the New Year’s eve and throughout the two week celebration.  Since Buddhism is central to many Chinese religious followings, this dish gets it’s name.  As a Buddhist, vegetarian ingredients is vital.  Yet the various ingredients contain different vegetables that have meaning and translations that are associated with good fortune. 

The color red is really important since this has always signified the “blood of the dragon” which is a fictitious yet mysterious animal like the phoenix, which bears strength, power, and good luck.  Red envelopes called “lycee” or “hung bow” are handed to children during the New Year time which is to be spent by the recipient that carries “good fortune” with whatever is purchased. 

The Chinese Lion Dance is performed in order to scare away “Evil Spirits” for the entire calendar year.  There accompanies the Lion Dance with loud drums, cymbals, and gongs and firecrackers which create the noise to help the lion dance and also keep the spirits at bay. 

Gung Hay Fa Choy!  For more comprehensive information about the Chinese New Year’s celebration and the food involved, contact: (480) 391-0607 / (480) 585-6630