Lunar New Year - Food and Games

The purpose of the Lunar New Year is for people to discard past worries and suspend new ones. The holiday is a great opportunity for them to escape the boring daily routines. What people do to celebrate the New Year are often things they would never even think of doing under normal circumstances. Case in point, excess consumption (food) and gambling are the two most popular activities during the holiday. The three must-haves for the Lunar New Year are food, games and flowers.

The holiday is famous for its festive foods. Naturally, people eat a lot during the Lunar New Year. The main concern is not how much they eat, but the type of food they eat. People spend most of the 15-day celebration period eating a lot of sweets and consuming food with a lot of fat. A typical assortment of sweets includes sugar-preserved lotus seeds, sugar-coated ground nuts, ginger jam, marmalade and sugar cookies. In addition to the sweets are sticky rice stuffed with fatty pork, dumplings, fried fish and fat-rich cakes. Sweetly flavored fruits such as mango and oranges are also New Year’s favorites.  If you aren’t a diabetic, the Lunar New Year will surely turn you into one.

Enjoying a variety of activities with family is a must during the holiday season. Fortunately, Lunar New Year games are not short of variety. For young children, they can enjoy light-hearted games such as kite flying and hide & seek. For older people, there is nothing better than a game of Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) or two. For people who love action, watching bloody sports unique to the Lunar New Year such as gamecock fighting, cricket fighting and ox fighting is probably their thing. For people who want to test their luck, gambling games such as ‘lucky dice’, Paigow poker and bingo are sure to give them a stern test. 

But here’s a word of caution. High-stake betting is generally banned in Asian countries. Unfortunately, it is usually overlooked by the authorities during the Lunar New Year. Lax enforcement is known to have caused massive losses of life savings and serious social problems. Recent data show that the number of people (in Asia) filing for divorce increases exponentially during and immediately after the New Year. One should remember that New Year games are primarily for fun and not for monetary gains.

Festive flowers are must-haves for the Lunar New Year. Specific flowers are chosen for their symbolism; they are commonly used to decorate homes during the holiday period. Popular flowers are white narcissus, chrysanthemum, peach blossom and yellow apricot. Flower markets, many of which open at night, are an essential part of the celebration. They are most busy in the week leading up to the New Year. 

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