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Chinese New Year 2013: Year of the Snake

chinese new year, year of the snakeThe Year of the Dragon is a tough act to follow considering it is the most desirable sign to be born under, has been the  symbol of royalty for thousands of years, and is believed to bring luck, strength, royalty, wisdom, and a promising future. Parents who follow Eastern astrology plan for their children to be born in the year of the powerful dragon, and do their utmost to avoid the cycle of the treacherous snake. Nevertheless, the dragon’s reign is over and the misunderstood snake is in the limelight beginning February 10, 2013.

Those born in the Year of the Snake: 1929, 1941, 1953,1965, 1977, 1989, and 2001 (and this year), can emerge from the dragon’s shadow as you are believed to be intuitive, introspective, insightful, intellectual; calm on the surface but passionate and intense underneath; determined to achieve success; and tending toward financial security. On the negative side, snakes can be cunning, scheming and suspicious of others. {Source: Orange County Register} Hmmm, today cunning and scheming seem to be traits necessary for survival in some arenas and suspicion of others is considered being cautious – just thinking aloud ;)  Some notable figures born in the year of the snake are Aristotle Onassis, as well as Jackie Kennedy-Onassis (interesting), J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, Dick Cheney!, Charlie Sheen!, John Mayer!, Tom Brady! and Chris Brown!! You draw your own conclusions. To see more, refer to Monday’s paper or click on the Register link.

Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, Tet Festival

I live close to Westminster, known as Little Saigon in Orange County, and every year I enjoy a weekday afternoon off to absorb take in the sights, savor some Vietnamese cuisine, and take in this most important cultural celebration. The gift of Banh Chung during the New Year has become the most important tradition of Vietnamese culture and was passed down from one generation to the next. Always curious about the foods that play such an important role in cultural traditions, I attended a cooking demonstration by Chef Haley Nguyen of Xanh Bistro in Fountain Valley, CA and learned about the legend behind Banh Chung, how the rice cakes are made, and how it became a symbol of Tet.

banh chung, chinese new year, lunar new year, tet traditions

chinese new year, lunar new year, banh chung, tet traditions

 A traditional food gift for the Lunar New Year, Chef Haley Nguyen demonstrated the fine art of wrapping the square cakes of rice, mung bean and pork in banana leaves and then boiling them. In front of a small, but avid group of Vietnamese food and culture lovers, she shared a bit of the legend behind banh chung: rice is the staff of life for the people and the banana leaves signify the love of parents who would always protect their children; and the difference between square and round shapes (square cakes represent life on earth and is the tradition in northern Vietnam and the round shape stands for heaven above and is from the south).

Strip malls in Little Saigon are bustling with activity as families buy colorful tins of candy, blooming hyacinth, gladiolas and other springtime flowers and kumquat or orange trees to adorn their homes;  and gift-wrapped banh chung and sweet treats to bestow upon family and friends during the month-long celebration.

chinese new year, lunar new year, tet festival

tet traditions, chinese new year, lunar new year, hyacinths

chinese new year, lunar new year, tet festival

chinese new year, lunar new year, tet festival

chinese new year, lunar new year, tet festival

chinese new year, lunar new year, tet festival

East meets West

Chinese astrology is based on the lunar year which begins the first day of the first lunar month, falling between mid-January and mid-February each year. Chinese astrology can be traced back 5,000 years and spread throughout Asia, like its western counterpart it uses 12 signs to chart basic character blueprints. The 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac are animals and the animals also cycle through the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. I was born in the sign of the Rooster and would bet that my element is earth because that’s my element of Virgo which is my sign in the western zodiac. Astrologer Donna Stellhorn doesn’t want people to think that those born in the year of the snake are bad – in the OC Register article she says we need their wisdom and caution. She is also convinced that there is growing interest in Chinese astrology outside Asian communities and offers more detailed analysis of each sign and predictions and prosperity tips on her website, 2013chineseastrology.com.

The week ahead brings the parades and pageantry of Tet Festival followed by 10 days of celebrating the Year of the Snake.

Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

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3 Responses to “Chinese New Year 2013: Year of the Snake”

  1. Angie@Angie's Recipes
    February 6 at 9:01 pm #

    Happy Chinese New Year!

  2. Stephanie
    February 7 at 1:42 pm #

    I’m a Rooster too!! =) Happy Lunar New Year!

    (By the way, CNY falls on February 10th this year.)

    • Priscilla
      February 7 at 1:54 pm #

      Roosters rock :) Thx, Steph – I read that Dragon ended on the 10th so I took that as year of the snake began on the 11th – I changed it!

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