spring festival
HEALTH/DINING

Chinese New Year at Phillip Chow Restaurant


The beautiful Dragon Dance, amid a Chinese New Year’s dinner at Phillip Chow had me wondering all about the culture –once again. Serving classic Beijing style cuisine amid the luxury, tavern-like ambiance, glamorous crispy duck, carved out into perfection by the founder himself—Phillip Chow—walnut seasoned prawn, chicken satay, dancing dragons, and a golden specialty ‘yunbao’ cocktail paid homage to the most important social and economic holiday celebrated by 1/6 of the world’s population. This Spring Festival is determined by lunar calendar, and begins on first new or dark moon. It always falls between Jan 21-Feb 20, and its vibrant history fractally manifests in everything from dance to food.

   

 

       

 

 

Parades traditionally line up the streets of China, until the 15th day of the Chinese New Year . On this day, known as Festival of the Lanterns, people display paper Rabbit lanterns that symbolize the ancient Chinese goddess Chang-E; she jumped on the moon with a rabbit. Ancient custom begins with the wild Yin, who would sneak into the village on the night of the new moon. Coming in to eat livestock and children, the villagers later learnt that he feared loud noises, fire and the color red, hence why lucky red envelopes called ‎hóngbāo are passed out to children and adults. Money is inside reach red envelope to symbolize fortune and luck in the coming year.

 

        

 

        

 

People fulfill goals and customs similar to those of New Year’s resolutions during Chinese New Year. Cleaning the house of old ghosts and bad luck associated with the past year, dumplings, long noodles and the color red are said to bring good luck. Eggrolls, which resemble blocks of solid gold, are believed to bring wealth, while long noodles (that shouldn’t be cut while eating) represent longevity. Meanwhile, shrimp symbolize happiness because the Mandarin words for smile and shrimp are very similar.

 

According to Chinese Zodiac, the animal of your birth year can shape your personality and destiny. Most enthusiastically celebrated in the San Francisco, the Gold Rush brought in a flux of Chinese immigrants. They honor the 12 animals associated with the lunar calendar, or the Sheng Xiao. Are you honest like a dragon or smart like a monkey? Folk legend has it that the Jade Emperor was in charge of heavens and earth. And when people had no way to keep track of days and years, he had an idea. He would invite all the animals to have a race, and the first 12 would win. The rat proved smartest by hiding in the ear of the ox. The pig came last, while the cat never made it into zodiac because it drowned.

 

Chinese zodiac is even more complex than is known to western culture, however. There are ‘inner animals’ associated with months, ‘true animals’ corresponding to the days and ‘secret animals’ based on the hours. There’s also 10-year cycle of ‘celestial stems’ that corresponds to one of the five elements of Chinese astrology: Wood, earth, metal, fire and water. Each element is rotated every two years, with each one of those two years reflecting either the ying or the yang.

 

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According to Chinese Zodiac, the animal of your birth year can shape your personality and destiny. Most enthusiastically celebrated in the San Francisco, the Gold Rush brought in a flux of Chinese immigrants. They honor the 12 animals associated with the lunar calendar, or the Sheng Xiao. Are you honest like a dragon or smart like a monkey? Folk legend has it that the Jade Emperor was in charge of heavens and earth. And when people had no way to keep track of days and years, he had an idea. He would invite all the animals to have a race, and the first 12 would win. The rat proved smartest by hiding in the ear of the ox. The pig came last, while the cat never made it into zodiac because it drowned.

Chinese zodiac

Chinese zodiac is even more complex than is known to western culture, however. There are ‘inner animals’ associated with months, ‘true animals’ corresponding to the days and ‘secret animals’ based on the hours. There’s also 10-year cycle of ‘celestial stems’ that corresponds to one of the five elements of Chinese astrology: Wood, earth, metal, fire and water. Each element is rotated every two years, with each one of those two years reflecting either the ying or the yang.

 

      

 

 

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