Since I wanted you to have this tablescape photo as early as possible, Bob and I decided to celebrate one day sooner on February 18th
February 19, 2015
I am fascinated by other cultures and traditions and I must admit I don’t know a lot about Chinese New Year. I know it is the longest and most important celebration on the Chinese calendar and there are many, many traditions passed down to families for centuries. I read that family members travel any distance to be reunited with their families for this celebration.
Even though there are no Chinese relatives in my lineage, I still like to participate in some of the customs (mostly edible) and secretly hope that they will bring good luck to my family as well.
My biggest attraction to different cultures are their customary foods served at holidays. If the food intrigues me, I try to duplicate it the best I can. This is one meal I don’t even attempt to cook anything for and I rely on my favorite Chinese restaurant for that.
I know that red and gold are dominant colors for Chinese New Year and RED symbolizes “Vitality of Life and Happiness” and GOLD represents “Wealth and Prosperity”. Sounded good to me, so for this tablescape, the red tablecloth was front and center and the gold chargers plates were still out from Mardi Gras.
(click photos to enlarge)
Some of the lucky plants suggested for a holiday centerpiece for this occasion are cherry blossoms or bamboo. I have bamboo and it is a lucky plant because I have a knack for killing every plant or flower that enters my home and this bamboo is the only plant that has survived – so far (8 months and counting).
There are other traditions included in Chinese New Year, such as shooting off firecrackers, handing out red “lucky” envelopes with money to the children and the elderly, and a dragon dance. I am skipping the envelopes because there are no children or elderly living here. I am skipping the firecrackers to keep the police happy and I will also skip the dragon dance on the front lawn because I like the neighbors. Besides, there is always that one neighbor that would call the police. And I don’t know if I have enough luck to talk myself out of that complaint.
So let’s start the tablescape!
As I mentioned, the tablecloth and chargers are ready. For the centerpiece, I started out with the lucky bamboo plant surrounded by vases filled with oranges for wealth, and a few apples on the table for peace.
Very plain and simple.
I used black ceramic dishes on top of the gold chargers and topped that with a themed “Year of the Sheep” dinner plate. (I have also seen the year of the Goat advertised on plates for 2015, so either is okay). I wanted to highlight the animal that represents this year so I went with paper plates for a finishing touch. You may have questioned why I am using two dinner plates and the reason is that I wasn’t sure if the paper plate would be strong enough to hold some of the food so I wanted to play it safe. Charger plates are not meant for food, so the black ceramic dishes were the perfect choice.
I added a luncheon size themed paper plate under the goblets to highlight the year and since we are wishing for good luck, I included some fortune cookies around the goblets.
I recently found Chinese votive candle holders online that I thought were so pretty with the Chinese characters written on them. The characters stand for health, happiness, love, long life, prosperity and good luck. Just perfect for Chinese New Year and they would bring a nice warm glow to the table. I added one candle in front of every place setting.
I had some Chinese fans that I purchased in Oriental Trading a few years ago for a different tablescape that came in white, red and black and I thought that the white and black would be perfect for this table and match the candle holders. I love little extras on the table; so in addition to the candles I added chopsticks as well.
Chinese New Year table setting details:
Red tablecloth from Linens and Things
Gold chargers from Pier I
Black dinner plates from Kohl’s
Themed plates and napkins from Oriental Trading
Fortune Cookies from Oriental Trading (not the taste I was looking for)
Chopsticks from Party City
Artificial tangerines from Pier I
Vases from Michael’s Arts & Crafts
Chinese votive candles from Amazon – NEW purchase
Bamboo plant –already had this….”lucky me”
Chinese Fans from Oriental Trading
Dinner from Hunan Dynasty
Since I planned to order dinner in for the two of us, I did some research regarding “lucky foods” for Chinese New Year. Here is a list that I put together and what the food represents; just in case you wanted to put together your own Chinese New Year Dinner.
· Shrimp for Abundance
· Whole Fish for Togetherness
· Chicken for Wealth
· Soup for everything better than last year
· Long green vegetables for a green year and great harvest
· Long noodles for Life (don’t cut them)
· Mushrooms for Longevity
· Sweet rice cakes for Wealth
· Steamed Dumplings for Good Luck
· Oranges for Wealth
· Apples for Peace
· Tangerines for Good Fortune
We normally would have eaten at the restaurant but with all the snow and the freezing temperatures (or below freezing temperatures) we are having this winter, we decided to eat at home and hibernate. Bob braved the freezing cold to go to the restaurant with my list hoping to order a meal of good luck and prosperity.
This is what we ordered.
House Special Soup to make this year better than last…
Shrimp with Chili sauce for abundance
Chicken with Vegetables for wealth
String beans and peapods for a great harvest
Cold sesame noodle for long life
Shrimp steamed dumplings for good luck
Egg roll with veggies and mushrooms for longevity
I think we managed to order a lot of the “lucky foods”.
Dinner was fantastic as usual (this restaurant never disappoints) and I do feel lucky already that I have such a wonderful husband, fantastic son, all my friends and now my new “blog family”.
I hope this post gave you some ideas for your own Chinese New Year dinner. It was a lot of fun for me to put together.
May you be blessed with Good Health, Long Life and Prosperity.
Until my next post, stay well and make every day a celebration!