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Reuniting for the New Year

Twin sisters Wang Liqun and Wang Liying

The Lunar New Year is quickly approaching and everyone in China is preparing for the big day. There is a festive mood with the sound of fireworks every night as the big day nears. The bright red decorations in every building, in people’s homes, on the streets, and the shiny lights decorating trees all around the city are a pleasant image to the senses.

A big part of this celebration is the food. The festivities run for many days beginning with New Year’s Eve. Families gather to eat a varied menu of traditional meals including fish, meat, vegetables, dumplings, and sticky rice ball for sweets. I spoke to twin sisters Ms. Wang Liqun and Ms. Wang Liying and like every family in the country, they are preparing themselves for the New Year. Food is a very important part of celebrating traditions, and in the New Year, they enjoy preparing all the delicious dishes they learned to make from their grandparents and parents. Over the years, the sisters have seen how food in China has changed and the new flavors that have been introduced. Nowadays they see how the younger generations don’t care too much to learn how to make traditional Chinese food. They know Chinese cooking can sometimes be an elaborate process, but it is gratifying to see their families enjoy what has been put on the table.

Dumplings are one of the traditional meals to welcome the New Year at midnight

The Wang sisters are originally from Tianjin and grew up eating all kinds of food, including insects. They would go to the markets to learn about the different vegetables, meat types, and insects to choose from for their meals. Their parents also taught them that if something was good for your body then it was ok to eat it, so they ate all kinds of dishes knowing it was good for them. When it came to plants, the sisters also learned to identify the medicinal plants from the edible ones. They could also pick them out in the wild. The sisters feel a bit sad that many young people don’t know about these practices and feel that in the future people might forget how to make traditional dishes. They understand that some are busy studying or working, but the modern commodities of just ordering a complete meal through an app is driving away the need to get busy in the kitchen.

Sticky rice balls with "Zao" or Jujube Fruit

The Wang sisters are just happy to bring in the unique dishes they learned to cook for their family, whether for their regular daily meals or special occasions. They are already getting prepared for the New Year with traditional dishes like dumplings, fish, and sticky rice balls. It is a happy time for all the Chinese families, visiting relatives, exchanging gifts, and bringing good wishes to everyone ahead of the year of the Rabbit.

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Painting by Chinese artist Chen


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