Attract prosperity, good fortune, and happiness for the Year of the Rabbit by adding these items to your table
The reunion dinner is central to Chinese New Year celebrations, and apart from being a special night for the family to share a meal, every dish on the table is symbolic of a wish or hope for the coming year.
For instance, fish is a must as the Chinese word for prosperity, yu, also means fish, and a dish of black moss or fatt choy ushers in wealth. A chicken symbolises joy and is served whole to represent the family's completeness.
While these dishes represent the family's wishes for the coming year, adding decorative items to the mix will not just beautify the table; if chosen well, they may increase your luck. Here are seven essentials.
The lovely chrysanthemum is the top flower to attract health and wealth during the Chinese New Year. Typically bought in golden yellow, they are equally beautiful in red, and there's never enough red, especially during this time of the year.
Add these as a large dramatic centrepiece of your table, or make smaller posies dotted throughout the table.
2. Paper cuttings
A time-honoured tradition dating back to the 2nd century CE, this Chinese folk art is especially popular during Chinese New Year, which sees designs depicting wishes for wealth, health and longevity conveyed through paper cuttings.
Typically realised on a piece of red paper and then pasted on doors or windows, add this intricate craft to your table with 3-d types out of more robust card stock. Consider images of auspicious plants or animals like the carp, which invite good fortune to your household.
3. Red table setting
There can never be enough red during Chinese New Year as red is the colour of luck, relates to fire and energy and symbolise vitality, celebration and prosperity.
A red tablecloth would please the most traditional in the family, but you can still infuse that bright colour with the use of red placemats and a table runner. Whether in festive brocade or minimalist bamboo, finish with decorated chopsticks and your best porcelain bowls and serveware.
4. Rabbit figurines
The coming lunar cycle will usher in the Year of the Rabbit, specifically, the Water Rabbit. A symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture, the coming Rabbit year is predicted to be a year of hope.
Kit out your table appropriately with representations of the adorable animal. Whether it's mini ceramic figurines for each place setting or a pair of bunnies as a centrepiece, rabbit-shaped chopstick rests or folding the napkins into bunny ears, multiply your luck and table's cuteness factor.
5. Gold ingots
Ingots or yuan bao are small metal ingots used in ancient China as money. Today, these boat-shaped objects are bountiful in design or decorations during Chinese New Year as they have become symbols of prosperity, income and wealth, frequently seen in design or decoration on items connected with Chinese New Year.
For the dinner table, strategically placing ingots amongst the dishes will add to the festive spirit. While plastic ingots are ubiquitous, consider folding them from gold paper like origami for a hand-crafted touch.
6. Lucky knots
Decorative Chinese knotting, also known as zhongguo jie, is a decorative handicraft that began as a form of Chinese folk art in the Tang and Song dynasty. The mystic knot, with its seemingly endless and repetitive pattern, is one of the eight Buddhist symbols of good fortune. Like Bagua mirrors, knots are supposed to ward off evil spirits and, therefore, a symbol of longevity and eternity. They also act as good luck charms and accompany gifts during Chinese New Year celebrations.
Multiply your table-setting luck with knots fastened around the stem of pedestal plates or tied around napkins. Best in red, colours like gold are also auspicious, although azure blue and apple green are said to be auspicious colours for the Year of the Water Rabbit.
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7. Mandarin Oranges
No Chinese New Year is complete without mandarin oranges because the Chinese word for mandarin, kam, sounds similar to gold. As such, having mandarin oranges around the home or exchanging them is said to bring riches into your life.
Add riches to the table by piling a beautiful bowl or tray with mandarin oranges. More than just adding vibrant colour to the setting, they're refreshingly perfect for tucking into after a heavy meal.