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The Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner is undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated and culturally significant times of the year. It’s an important tradition that requires meticulous planning and preparation in the weeks leading up to the event.
Symbolism and good fortune play an important role in the dinner. Therefore, it’s important to have your home and body ready for the celebrations so that the dinner and fifteen days of new year can proceed as they should.
It’s a happy time, not only because you’ll be surrounded by loving family and amazing food, but also because it’s a spiritually cleansing time of the year. A time where you can forgive and forget old grudges, brush away all off the negative aspects of the last year, and welcome prosperity, happiness, and good fortune into our homes.
As this is a holiday that many people look forward to for weeks in advance, it’s important to plan all of the details to ensure your Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner brings in the New Year with as much good fortune as possible.
To serve all of your family’s favourite dishes, alongside the symbolically lucky dishes, in an environment conducive to prosperity, isn’t easy. To help you host your reunion dinner without a hiccup, we’re providing step by step guides to ensure your décor and food are on point this new year.
For a perfect celebration , the first thing you’ll need to look for are all of the products you’ll need for a good spring clean. Remember to clean before – not during – the 15 days of New Year festivities! This ensures that you do not “sweep away” the good luck and fortune that are bestowed upon your household during the festive period.
Once the spring cleaning is done, fresh flowers – though not white ones – and red and gold decorations can be hung around the house. Calligraphy of symbols like blessings, happiness, and prosperity are also a great way to decorate your home.
Aside from tidying up the house, remember to tidy yourself up too! Cut, shave, and trim before the new year. Cutting hair during the 15 days of New Year festivities is considered bad luck; it’s tantamount to cutting ties and prosperity.
Invitations, tableware, and gifts should also be planned weeks in advance. Invitations are traditionally sent to all members of the family in a decorated red envelope.
When it comes to decorations, paper lanterns can go in and outside the house, and serve as great table centrepieces too. Try covering your coffee table with a red tablecloth or runner. The use of the colour red has nothing to do with current Chinese political leanings, and everything to do with the fact that is scares off the Nian, the beast of bad fortune, and is associated with life and all living things. If you’re in any doubt about what to do with something in your house at this time of year, you can’t go wrong with painting it red, covering it with something red, or putting something red on or in it.
As black and white are traditionally colours of mourning, they should be avoided at all costs, especially when choosing outfits to wear, or fresh flowers for the house.
Circles and squares hold significance in Chinese culture as they represent heaven and earth. Some square shaped items that you can use as part of your home decor are table runners, cushions, and dinner plates.
Hosting your Reunion Dinner at a round table with round plates is a great tradition and symbolically significant way of setting your table. Gold napkin rings around red napkins provide a great finishing touch, and a paper representation of this year’s zodiac animal is also a great detail to include. As a lot of dishes in Singapore are now served steamboat style, it’s wise to plan your table settings in advance to accommodate the larger hot dishes.
To summarise, a preparatory shopping list could look something like this:
The next important thing to be considered is potentially the highlight of the day – the food!
While some amazing Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner recipes are included below as a guideline, you may want to make your own version of the dish, or adopt a family favourite. Or maybe you are looking for a little inspiration for how to make some meals you already love appropriate for this special occasion.
Here is a guide to some foods and ingredients that are considered lucky. Try to incorporate as many of these in your reunion dinner menu as possible!
|Black mushroom||Make all your wishes come true|
|Sea moss, bok choy, and pineapple||Prosperity|
|Whole fish (including head and tail)||Abundance. It is important that some of the fish is left over, so there is enough abundance to go on for the whole year|
|Leafy greens, long grain rice, peaches, peanuts, and noodles||Longevity. It’s especially important that the noodles aren’t cut; that’s tantamount to cutting a long life short|
|Shrimp||Happiness and good fortune|
|Oysters||Promote success in business|
|Red dates||Success in all endeavours|
|Red Pomegranates||More Children|
|Tangerines/anything red cooked||Good luck|
|A sweet end to the meal||So you can enjoy a sweet life next year!|
We suggest eight courses for your reunion dinner since eight is considered a lucky number.
The following courses are a good idea for a template:
Remember: The point of the dinner is to bring happiness and prosperity into your household and the lives of your family for the next year. While it’s wonderful to follow tradition and prepare traditional dishes, it’s also important to eat the food that makes your family happiest. Feel free to replace any of the above with your family favourites!
Here we have shared some amazing recipes that provide ideas for each of the eight courses listed above. You can swap and change ingredients to include some of the particularly lucky foods listed earlier too!
Appetiser: An appetiser really sets the mood for the dinner, so why not start as you mean to go on and begin with a bang! These appetisers will have your guests begging for more, and super eager for the other seven courses! And as an appetiser, you really can’t go wrong with dumplings.
Dumplings are delicious, and come in enough varieties that there’s surely one to please all of your guests. they also symbolise wealth, which is exceedingly important at this dinner! What’s more, as they are shaped like ingots, dumplings symbolise wealth and prosperity. Two great varieties are pan-fried vegetable dumplings, or Har Gow, delicious shrimp dumplings.
And as the Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner is all about bringing the family together, and meatballs symbolise the family, meatballs could also be an awesome appetiser. Here’s a yummy recipe for meatballs. All of the ingredients required for these meals are generally super easy to find, which is also an added bonus! Want to be the first to know when all these ingredients go on promotion? Join our Giant Super Savers Club and receive the latest promotions straight to your mobile phone!
Soup: Steamboat dishes are really popular in Singapore this time of year, and are a great way to serve your soup course. Two tasty options are available online here that have gone down a treat at steamboat parties previously, and either could make a tasty addition to your meal! For others, it’s not a Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner without fish maw soup, and this traditional dish is a firm favourite in many households.
Vegetable Dish: There are some delicious vegetable options, and while it’s easy to get excited over succulent pork or beef and fortuitous fish, the vegetable dish shouldn’t be overlooked, as it can be an equally tasty and exciting option.Gailan with crab meat sauce is one possibility, while Lo Han Chai is also a traditional vegetable dish that would be appropriate for a Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner.
Noodle Dish: How about some delicious rice noodles with pork and bean sprouts? Alternatively, try making braised longevity noodles. The noodles are a really important part of the meal, so even if neither of these noodle recipes really suit your fancy, it’s worth finding one your family will love to serve on the day!
Fried Rice: Let’s be honest – the Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner is a big deal. Every course is a big deal. You don’t want to take the easy option or go with simple foods, it’s a night to pull out all of the stops and really serve up a feast. No ordinary or simple fried rice dish will do!. So for this massive event, why not go with this impressive banquet fried rice? It’s sure to keep everyone happy, and make the dinner memorable!
Chicken Dish: Having a whole steamed chicken is a very traditional part of the menu, and serving it whole with both the head and feet attached symbolise joy. However, most contemporary families now simply serve their favourite chicken dish so the choice is yours. You can go the simple route of steaming your chicken, or make an elaborate chicken dish with other luxurious ingredients included. Try this Abalone Chicken Congee, which will surely please the whole family, and will be a magnet for prosperity in the coming year!
Fish Dish: Fish is most definitely one of the more indispensable plates to have on the table during your Chinese New Year Dinner! This is what attracts abundance, and by keeping some left over fish you are ensuring that the abundance will last all year. While simply steaming a whole fish is a simple and tasty option, if you feel like trying something new, this fancy stir fried broccoli with fish looks scrumptious – however on the day it may be prudent to carve the fish when serving, rather than cooking it chopped.
Beef Dish: Coming in as the last but by no means least plate is the juicy beef dish. There are some amazing flavours and spices that can be used to cook beef, and while this is the kind of day to show off your culinary talents, it’s also a day to try and attract luck. Anything red cooked is seen as extremely lucky, so why not serve up this amazing red cooked beef dish?
While this would be a great template that could be used to plan an awesome Chinese New Year reunion dinner, it doesn’t need to be followed rigidly. For example, while the meat dishes above are for chicken and beef, there are some scrummy pork or duck recipes that may be more appealing to your family. For example, this succulent braised roast pork with dried oyster and black sea moss is full of key symbolic ingredients to ensure that your family has a fantastic next year. Or how about this fabulous braised duck with sea cucumber dish that would surely be a treat to the most discerning diners?
One last thing: there should be something sweet to finish off the meal!
Steam up a storm and enjoy a prosperous year with this easy to follow recipe for Nian Gao, traditional New Year cake, to round off your meal.
If you’re one of the lucky Singaporeans who have gardens or front porches, try hosting your reunion dinner outside! While there is absolutely nothing wrong with hosting your dinner outdoors, many traditional families still prefer to be inside, so the family is physically close, and the elder members of the family are warm and have comfy chairs to sit on. It’s a matter of personal preference.
Hopefully, this guide will help you to plan a wonderful Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner that’s easy and affordable and lets you enjoy good fortune and prosperity in the following year. We’re sure that you and your loved ones will be thrilled at the chance to spend quality time together and enjoy a delicious and intricately planned highlight dinner of the Chinese New Year Season!