Culinary traditions and etiquette are very important in Chinese culture, and never more so than during Chinese New Year. No matter where families have spread to, they all try to come together to celebrate the New Year as a group. In fact, the New Year dinner is called the ‘reunion dinner’ or nián yè fàn, and it is believed that having large meals with your family is a sign of strength and togetherness.
One of our favourite New Year family bonding traditions is the tray of togetherness. These trays, usually quite large and circular or octagonal in shape, are red in colour and made up of 6-8 compartments. The compartments are then filled with traditional lollies, candied fruit and even vegetables, as well as melon seeds, nuts and sesame balls. The numbers (of course) are auspicious – 6 is synonymous with luck and 8 represents fortune and wealth.
The trays are really a clever tool used to bring the family together, for as people congregate around them to feast on sweets, they are forced to communicate with each other.
While this may seem like a foreign concept to millennials, it’s just another example of the importance family plays in Chinese culture and the New Year celebrations, and something we should all use as inspiration.
We’d also love to hear about your family traditions and togetherness stories, even if it’s not New Year related! Share with us on Facebook or email.
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