Wednesday, April 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Look for luck when decorating for Chinese New Year

A tangerine plant with “lucky money” attached is a simple Chinese New Year decoration that makes a bold statement. BigStock photo

By Michelle Locke

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but did you know a bowl of tangerines can usher in good fortune for the Lunar New Year?

In Chinese, their name sounds like the word for luck. The same double meaning holds true for oranges, which sound like the word for fortune, and pomelos, which sound like “to have.”

This kind of symbolism is huge in decorating for Chinese New Year, where setting the stage for an auspicious year means surrounding yourself with things that look and sound like good fortune — a home-sweet-homonym approach.

Red and gold are the dominant colors of Chinese New Year decorations, with gold signaling prosperity and red indicating life. (And the word for red in Chinese sounds like prosperous.)

As the Year of the Dragon approaches, on Monday, one way to mark the occasion is to hang paper banners printed with couplets expressing good wishes for the coming year. These can be found at Chinese markets and online. And if you have a steady hand, you can try the DIY approach, looking online for a template of the character “fu” — fortune — and copying it.

San Francisco resident Deborah Parker Wong, an American of English and German descent married to a first-generation Cantonese Chinese man, has been observing Christian and Chinese festivals for years to give the couple’s two children the best of both cultures.

“My favorite decorations are the bright-red flowering quince branches that I cut from our garden at this time of year. The branches symbolize growth and prosperity, and they are hung with red envelopes that contain ‘lucky money,’” she says. (Lucky money is cash stuffed into brightly decorated red envelopes that are given to children in the family.)

Parker Wong, an editor at The Tasting Panel magazine, also puts out plates of tangerines with the stems and leaves still attached, which represents strong family bonds.

Another fun custom is to prepare a Harmony Tray or “tray of togetherness,” featuring candied fruits, nuts and seeds, with each representing some form of good fortune. Candied melon, for instance, symbolizes growth and good health. Items are often displayed in groups of eight, a homonym for prosperity, or nine, which sounds like longevity.

Known as the Spring Festival and celebrated in similar ways in other Asian countries, Chinese New Year begins with the big “reunion dinner,” where as many members of the family as possible get together under one roof. The celebrations go on for two weeks, ending on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival.

A simple and fresh way to welcome the Lunar New Year is with flowers. Peonies, the “queen of flowers,” are a popular choice, although any kind of flower is OK because the idea is that flowers represent a beginning, says David Lei, an expert in Chinese traditions who serves as a cultural advisor to the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival Committee, part of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco.

Water narcissus flowers symbolize good luck, and it’s particularly auspicious if they bloom on New Year’s Day.

An easy way to create your own Lunar New Year display, says Parker Wong, is to set out a vase of narcissus or flowering plum branches, and then add a dish of tangerines and pomelos, stems and leaves attached of course, and a harmony tray.

Before you get started with New Year’s decorating, remember to clean the house thoroughly; this is an important ritual to clear the house of any residual bad luck.

The good news is you won’t have to do this again until the festival is over. After all, you wouldn’t want to sweep any of that new luck out the door.

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

New mosaic mural reflects Peña family history

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
UC Davis biodigester hungers for food scraps, belches out electricity

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Team Blend hosts fundraiser for Nicaragua project

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

 
Sign up for enviro organizations during Earth Week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Davis businesswoman presides over conference

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Bible fun featured at Parents’ Night Out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Fire damages Woodland home

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3

 
Davis Arts Center: See ceramics, join the Big Day of Giving

By Erie Vitiello | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Register to vote by May 19

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Birch Lane sells garden plants, veggies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sunder hosts campaign event for kids

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Fundraiser benefits Oakley campaign

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Odd Fellows host culinary benefit for nonprofit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
UCD to host premiere of autism documentary

By Cory Golden | From Page: A4

400 bikes go up for bids at UCD auction

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Fire crews gather for joint training

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
UFC hears from two local historians

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Church hosts discussion of mental health needs, services

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
UC Davis conference showcases undergraduate research

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Train to become a weather spotter

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Fly Fishers talk to focus on healthy streams, rivers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Learn survival skills at Cache Creek Preserve

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Veterans, internees may receive overdue diplomas

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

UCD professor to talk about new book

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Slow Food tour showcases area’s young farmers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

.

Forum

Will anyone notice?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
My votes reflect city values

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

I support Sunder for board

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
A plea on the Bard’s birthday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Sharing fire services has been a success

By Our View | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

.

Sports

Walchli is under par in another Devil victory

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
DHS/Franklin I goes to the Blue Devil softballers

By Chris Saur | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS thunders back to win an epic DVC volleyball match

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Seniors send Blue Devil girls past Broncos in a lacrosse rout

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis gets to Grant ace and rolls in DVC crucial

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
Sharks go up 3-0 with OT win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Baseball roundup: Rangers rally to beat A’s in the ninth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

Field to fork: El Macero’s chef offers spring tastes

By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
.

Arts

Celebrate spring at I-House on Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Music, wine flow at Fourth Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Biscuits ‘n Honey will play at winery

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Five Three Oh! featured at April Performers’ Circle

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Catharine ‘Kay’ Lathrop

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6