Chinese New Year provided the perfect excuse to have a small gathering at home. I dug around cupboards for elements that might create a nod to the theme. I was able to use up a disposable table cover and some Christmas red napkins. I brought out some of my red Christmas candles, candlesticks and string lights. And fortunately I had three red envelopes for the kids to get lucky!
We popped to Tesco and were delighted to find their fun but nicely designed Chinese New Year napkins and paper plates. For food and the original inspiration, I had been very impressed by the Marks & Spencer boxes of Chinese Food celebrating the year of the tiger. Full marks to M&S for their great packaging.
- Find items in your home that bring to mind Chinese colours and symbols. You may have, like me, some red candles and red napkins left over from Christmas. You may have some chop sticks that are gathering dust at the back of a drawer or some bowl shaped dishes for rice and prawn crackers. I had some chopsticks that bring back happy memories of my travels to Japan.
- Build up layers of colour starting from the table cover upwards. I put some red napkins down the middle of the table and underneath each side plate. I used some string lights for extra twinkle in the evening.
- I loved the Chinese New Year napkins and plates in Tesco that were a fun addition to the table and each plate is a Chinese character. Be ready to help everyone learn their own animal from the Chinese zodiac … we had oxen, a dragon and a rat among our gathering! If you can find some fortune cookies these are a fun addition also at each place setting.
- I added a couple of red blooms in bud vases.
- As with Chinese tradition, I placed red envelopes and put in some money for each of the kids.
- And now time to relax: put an order in at your local Chinese restaurant and support them after a tough year for hospitality.
Each year is associated with one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. This year is the Year of the Tiger. It is said that children born in the year ahead will be brave, competitive and strong.
The Tiger ranks the third among the animals of the Chinese zodiac. The 12 zodiac animals are, in order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each year is related to an animal sign according to a 12-year-cycle. The most relevant years of the Tiger include 2022, 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, and 1938.
In Cantonese the New Year greeting is "Gong Hei Fat Choy" (恭喜發財), which means "wishing you prosperity." In Mandarin, people say "Xin Nian Kuai Le" (新年快乐), which simply means "Happy New Year".