Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays and it marks the end of the winter season. The festival begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with a Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day. In 2020 it starts on 25th January.
In Chinese culture, each year is related to a Chinese zodiac animal according to the 12-year cycle. 2020 is the Chinese Year of the Rat which is the first of the Chinese zodiac and a symbol of wealth and surplus.
Customs and traditions
The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Tibet, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere, including here in the UK.
Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely. People will buy presents, decorations, food, and clothing. It is also the tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck. Children receive money in red paper envelopes. Red is a prosperous colour and symbolises joy. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.
Check out our Chinese New Year infographic here.
The biggest event of any Chinese New Year's Eve is the dinner. This meal is comparable to Christmas dinner in the West. The meal usually consists of food with symbolic meaning such as dumplings which symbolise wealth, fish symbolises abundance, tangerines represent luck and uncut noodles, which represent longevity and long life. At home, why not rustle up a quick stir fry for the family?
Kikkoman’s top stir fry tips:
- For super succulent chicken, try ‘velveting’ the chicken before cooking. This is an authentic Chinese cooking technique, used to prevent overcooking and give a juicy texture to the meat. Before cooking the chicken simply toss it in a mixture made from 1tbsp cornflour and 1 egg white.
- Soy sauce is a key seasoning in Chinese food. Add it at the end of cooking a stir fry, or use it as a marinade for meat and fish. There’s no need to buy a light and dark soy sauce – Kikkoman does the job of both!
- Cut your vegetables into similar sized shapes so that they cook evenly. Cooking quickly on a high heat will ensure the textures remain crunchy. If using meat, then slice it into thin strips across the grain so that it stays deliciously tender.
- If you can’t eat wheat, choose Kikkoman’s Gluten-free Tamari Soy Sauce. And those on a low salt diet should opt for Kikkoman Less Salt Soy Sauce which has 43% less salt than the original
Stir Fry Recipes
Here are our favourite wok stars!
- Stir fry Aubergine with Prawns in Teriyaki Sauce
- Stir fry Chicken with Soy, Orange and Ginger
- Stir fried Vegetables with Crispy Noodles
- Spicy Sichuan Chicken Stir Fry
- Chilli Beef and Mushroom Stir Fry
- Pork, Red Pepper and Sesame Stir Fry