Chinese new year Celebrations with the Wong Family

Chinese New Year with the Wong family

Chinese New Year with the Wong family

Are you still on a high or food coma from your Chinese New Year celebrations? Well this is the perfect read for you to let your mind and stomach relax and reminisce the feel-good festivity.

We loved sharing with you the story behind Chinese New Year and delicious dishes to feast your eyes on. So, I guess it was only fitting we share with you how our team celebrated the festivity. This year, I joined the Wong family at their Chinese New Year celebrations. And boy was it amazing!

My first Experience

I have never experienced a traditional Chinese New Year festivity before (not like this one anyway). When I was younger, I would see the lion and dragon dances that performed at the Crown or in the Perth City. I would go no further than watching for a bit and then taking a photo. I thought it was something special, but didn’t really relate to the celebration. I have since learnt more about the festivity, which was a motivating factor for me to experience a Chinese New Year event up close.

I want to become more cultured and I think this was a step forward into achieving this and appreciating other cultural traditions. I don’t come from a Chinese background, so enduring this experience was very new and exciting for me. Even from the moment I received an invitation, I was so pumped! I knew I couldn’t reject the invite and I instantly began talking about my excitement with my friends and family. I felt privileged to be included into the Wong family’s celebrations.

Although I arrived as a work colleague, I was welcomed as family. There were so many of beautiful kids who were just so adorable; all dressed up in their stunning red satin Chinese Cheongsam (it’s an embroidered red dress). I loved how everyone wore something red for good luck. It felt like we were one, united. And I think that’s how it should feel at these occasions.

I spent most of my afternoon playing with the young girls and chilling with my friends. They introduced me to the various traditions like the angpao (red packets), which are given at celebrations like this for good luck and to ward of evil spirits. It was fascinating to watch the lion dance by Chow Kwoon Yarn Yee Tong Kung Fu Academy, how the people wearing the costume moved in continuity and rhythm with each other to tell a story. I watched in amazement as people crowded around, placing angpao into the lion’s mouth. We all smiled and cheered as the lions came close, opening up their large mouth to swallow the angpao and at times nearly gobbled up our hands and the kids’ head (not literally of course).

It was spectacular to see the pride and joy expressed by the performers themselves. You could really see that they were keeping their traditions and spirits alive in the moment of the performance. Not going to lie though- I can understand why so many kids get freaked out by the loud drumming… and maybe at times the lion costume (although that could just be me who got a bit scared by the mask).

Nothing short of amazing Food

One of the best experiences of the celebration was (of course) the food! After the lion dance, we were given a pair of chopsticks and invited inside. We surrounded a plate full of raw fish, mixed shredded vegetables, condiments and homemade sauce. I have never seen anything like it. And to be completely honest, I didn’t really know what was in it until I tried it. It’s called Yusheng which translates to ‘Prosperity Toss’. There was at least 10 of us surrounding the table, some knelt down on the floor and others standing. Someone added a few words, and of a sudden, everyone began tossing the food with the chopsticks and cheering. It got super messy, with bits of shredded vegetables flying off the plate. But I think that’s what made it more fun. Everyone got so involved and didn’t flinch at a bit of food flying onto the table. I have never experience anything quite like this. It was truly such a feel-good moment.

And that was just the beginning of great food! There were two tables full of so many drool worthy dishes for dinner! From prawn crackers to fried rice, thick flavoursome noodles to succulent roast chicken and pork… you can imagine the food coma we all had after this. I kept an open mind trying these new dishes. I had to try their traditional dish which had coconut rice, a spicy sauce mix, anchovies and some nut looking side. I was a bit intimidated to try it but I still gave it a go. The verdict- I didn’t hate it but I didn’t like it either. Let’s just say it’s probably not my taste. But that’s ok. I filled myself up on plenty of satay chicken, noodles, rice and a pork bao bun. They were seriously to die for!

Even though I ate two people’s worth of food that evening, there’s always room for dessert. And what better way to wash your food down with a cooling caramel and honeycomb ice cream. It was just the right element of sweetness; delicious and cool even if it was dripping down my hand from the heat. And I couldn’t resist having a chocolate mud-cake cupcake. They were too pretty to resist.

I think it’s fair to say I experienced some incredible things at the celebration. I was surrounded by great company, amazing food, cheer and laughter. I was even fortunate to be given an angpao. It was beautiful and different from the typical gifts I would receive. I felt so special to be a part of this tradition and won’t forget this experience.

I hope you all had an amazing Chinese New Year and enjoyed hearing about our team’s celebrations.

-Justine