As Singapore readies herself for 2021, Chinese grandparents all over the island are busy making long shopping lists. Slowly but steadily, their kitchen cabinets and fridges come ever closer to reaching full capacity, after each trip to the supermarket. They are, of course, prepping for your new year visit.
Their mission? Produce an ungodly amount of food for you and the 7 other very special New Year guests.
As you contemplate what being completely stuffed feels like, because you don’t want to disappoint your grandparents – let’s take a look at our neighbours and beyond. What about their grandparents? What are they having for New Year’s?
As the New Year rolls around, Filipinos everywhere gather fruits but only round ones. Preferably 12, one for each month. The thinking is that the round fruits represent coins and coins of course, represent wealth. As you eat these fruits with your family, you are inviting wealth into the family for the New Year.
Another New Year food is pancit, which is fried noodles, a dish which was introduced by Chinese immigrants.
According to a Filipino friend, there is also a tradition of jumping as high as possible when the clock strikes 12am, so as to grow taller.
Not recommended for anybody who is stuffed to the gills with food.
Tết, which is Vietnamese New Year, coincides with Chinese New Year. The sight that heralds the coming of Tết, however, is the guy on the bike ferrying Bánh tét. It is made from 3 main ingredients: glutinous rice, mung bean paste and pork. The ingredients are packed inside of the rice, which is then wrapped up in a banana leaf and then secured by string. The Bánh tét is then boiled for up to 6 hours.
When it is ready to be served, it is carefully unwrapped and cut into wheel-shaped slices. It is often served with a side of pickled onions, or pickled vegetables in fish sauce.
Seollal also happens concurrently with Chinese New Year, which is no surprise as both cultures follow the Lunar Calendar.
During Seollal, the South Koreans eat the Tteokguk, a type of rice cake soup. South Koreans consider eating Tteokguk to be synonymous with growing one year older. So no matter how delicious it is, don’t overdo it, OK?
Although Tteokguk may sound bland, it is in fact an extremely versatile dish. You may prepare it with any kind of broth you prefer, whether that’s beef, kelp or seafood. The clear soup is supposed to represent a new beginning while the round rice cakes are supposed to represent prosperity.
Whether you celebrate Chinese New Year or not, chances are that you have picked up and munched on some Chinese New Year snacks? If so, what are your favourites?
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