Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year!!

Today, it is the official Chinese New Year! Wishing all of my Vietnamese friends and family a very Happy New Year! Since the holiday falls on a regular work week, our family was able to get together yesterday, on Sunday to celebrate!

A lot of my non-Vietnamese friends have often asked me what the celebration is all about and what kind of food do we today's post will be a little cultural...some fun tidbits and facts...and some photos of the wonderful food we had yesterday!

It is much like the American Christmas holiday where family and friends gather together, great feasts are presented on the table, and you may choose to dress up or not....depending on the tradition of the family. For the New Year, men and women may wish to dress in the traditional 'long' gown called Ao Dai, pronounced (ow y-i-y), the "i" being a long i sound.

The color RED is mostly worn to symbolize good luck, good health, prosperity, and wealth for the coming year.

Gifts are also presented to each other in the form of little red envelopes as seen here (look how lucky Chris was to get an envelope with Mickey Mouse on it):

Brand new dollar bills are often inserted inside the envelopes and are distributed to anyone you wish. The common distribution is mostly to those who are younger than you and children especially. You may choose to put simply a $1 bill inside or as much as you want....but the real meaning behind the red envelope is not the amount of money but the fact that the exchange itself represents the wish for prosperity!

Other gifts given are exotic, fresh fruits including kumquats, persimmon, and mangoes. Sweets such as sugar coated candies, assorted mung bean compotes, mung bean layered jellos, and assorted nuts are very popular! Fresh flowers are also given or decorated throughout the house as a symbol of good fortune.

Moving on, here are some photos of some of the food we had, I wasn't able to take more photos because I was sooo busy eating all the yummy

The hostess of the party had pounds and pounds of lobster:

Here is the main spread with a whole steamed fish, lobster, spring rolls wrapped with rice paper and minced sausage, fresh bread, and a Vietnamese style noodle salad:

Other foods not mentioned included a pot of moist beef stew, another pot of WINE drenched stew - wine being used for the added richness of flavor! And yet another pot of asparagus and crab soup (YUMMO) if you've never tried that, you must! Also some shrimp stuffed egg rolls for appetizers!
Am I making you HUNGRY yet? I'm still hungry! In addition to all the desserts, yesterday's celebration was a double one with a birthday in the family too. Here is a photo of a delicious MANGO and strawberry flavored cake:

It was soooo light and moist and just the perfect touch of sugar that it just melted in your mouth...Wonderful stuff! I don't like cakes that are tooo sweet, takes away the goodness of it!

Have fun and enjoy! I will be back to crafting a little later today!


Stamping Cafe said...

Look at all those food, yum! Have fun celebrate!

ivwhy said...

everything looks so yummy!! the lobster looks delish! love spring rolls! so much food there!!

Mary Perry said...

Ok, the food looks so amazing, and when I read crab and asparagus soup, I think I really drooled. Oh, all looks and sounds heavenly. And then the cake, sounds like the perfect dessert.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful holiday. I love learning new things from different cultures.