Oddly enough, the start of Chinese New Year and its corresponding festivities enabled me to indulge my chocolate obsession. But we’ll get to that a bit later.
Monday, January 23rd marked the first day of Chinese New Year, and specifically the Year of the Dragon. With it came the first extrovertic celebration in its honor.
To help mark this holiday, we were fortunate enough to have someone truly knowledgeable about the proceedings on hand—our recently appointed extrovertic cultural attaché, Desmond Yuen. Having grown up in Malaysia, Des has celebrated this holiday his entire life. As a result, he is a font of knowledge about the traditions associated with, and the reasons for celebrating, Chinese New Year.
As with many holidays, food plays a vital role in the merrymaking. So, after a brief introduction highlighting the:
· Whys (involving lions that feasted on villagers),
· Hows (involving cleaning one’s house), and
· Whens (involving the lunar calendar),
we proceeded to enjoy a traditional Chinese New Year luncheon. The traditional staples included whole fish (for good luck) and noodles (for longevity). We also feasted on a number of different Malaysian dishes, including nasi lemak, sambal shrimp, and kangkung belacan.
The highlight of the meal, however, was the yu sheng, a salad comprised of many different vegetables, raw fish, and noodles, literally tossed together by the whole office. Standing around a table, we collectively mixed the salad in the symbolic hopes of bringing fortune and prosperity to us all (and to extrovertic in the process). The higher we tossed, the greater our fortunes in the coming year!
Another memorable tradition we experienced was the handing out of red packets, or hóngbāo, in which unmarried (traditionally younger) folks receive gifts of money symbolizing luck from the older generation. For our extrovertic party, red packets packed with chocolate gold coins were distributed (hence the title of this post).
In keeping with extrovertic’s tradition of utilizing analogs and drawing inspiration from outside sources, celebrating a hallmark of Chinese culture was as good a subject to learn from as any. And so we kicked off Chinese New Year with a bang.
Interesting factoid: If you were born in the years 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, or 2000 (or if your age this year is divisible by 12), 2012—the Year of the Dragon—is your year: