The Year of the Monkey started last Monday. The celebration usually lasts 15 days so we have two weeks to mark this significant Chinese festival.
As with last year, Tiger and I found an Chinese New Year-related activity to do in London. This time, the National Gallery had a short workshop on decorating the Peking Opera mask, so we went along and did that.
Although the workshop emphasised creativity, which Tiger exercised plenty of, his mask doesn't look particularly Chinese in colour or design, so I asked him to read the Origins of Chinese Art and Craft as well as Lianpu in order to look into the significance of the design and colours of the various traditional Peking opera masks to understand that they are not chosen randomly. We also found the following clip useful to give us a better understanding of this art form:
From the National Gallery, we walked to Chinatown to buy a few special items in preparation for the Chinese New Year as well as to eat a hearty meal. It is interesting to see that we have chosen exactly the same food as last year.
Once we got home, we started decorating the house by putting up various decorative items around the house, much like what people would do to decorate their homes for Christmas.
Many of the Chinese decorations have symbolic meanings that usually mean well-wishes and the ushering in of good fortune and prosperity for the family. Unlike a child who grows up in the East who will understand the symbolism behind the various Chinese decorations through sheer exposure to the culture in his environment, Tiger does not have such luxury so he has to find out about the symbolic meaning of the various decorations through reading books.
This year's New Year's Eve dinner was quite special in that I bought the 'Yu Sheng' (鱼生) from Chinatown.
This dish is like a raw salmon salad that is only eaten during the Chinese New Year period, and is a tradition of Chinese living in Southeast Asia. It is a dish to be eaten with family and friends as a way to welcome prosperity for everyone in the new year:
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