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Good­bye mon­key, hello rooster”. The Lunar New Year begins on Jan­u­ary 28, with fif­teen days of cel­e­bra­tion and feast­ing ahead.

Shrug off the shenani­gans of 2016 (those mis­chie­vous­ness mon­key traits) and usher in the con­fi­dence of the rooster.

Always well dressed, other rooster traits include loy­alty, talk­a­tive­ness, punc­tu­al­ity, hon­esty and hard-​working dis­ci­pline.

As the two week Spring Fes­ti­val cel­e­bra­tions take place, fam­i­lies and friends travel great dis­tances to be together over shared meals and spe­cial events.

The mak­ing and serv­ing of foods that are sym­bolic of good for­tune, har­mony, hap­pi­ness, and longevity. This tra­di­tion reaches back cen­turies. For many fam­i­lies, a New Year’s Eve feast is the main event, with dishes and cus­toms vary­ing by region.

Asian or not, con­sider plan­ning a com­mu­nal meal dur­ing this time period to reflect the spirit of a new year begin­ning. Food rit­u­als abound in many cul­tures. Imag­ine then, the his­tory and tra­di­tions in Asian cul­tures per­tain­ing to food alone.

Con­tem­po­rary life has us look­ing to blend some newer tra­di­tions with the best of older wis­dom and ways of the ancients. One hip way to ring in the Lunar New Year is to host a dumpling party.

With a his­tory over 2,000 years old, dumplings are a clas­sic favorite that invite social cel­e­bra­tion.

Chi­nese dumplings can be made to look like Chi­nese sil­ver ingots (boat-​shaped, oval cur­rency which are turned up at the two ends). Leg­end has it that the more dumplings eaten dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion, makes for a more pros­per­ous year ahead.

Dumplings gen­er­ally con­sist of minced meat (pork, chicken, shrimp or beef) com­bined with finely-​chopped veg­eta­bles (cab­bage, bok choy, mush­rooms, radish and onions), then care­fully wrapped in a thin sheet of dough. Dumplings can be cooked by boil­ing, steam­ing, fry­ing or bak­ing.

When mak­ing dumplings there should be a good num­ber of pleats in the folds of the wrap­per. If the dough is too flat, it is thought to pur­port poverty.

Some elders put a white thread inside a sin­gle dumpling. The guest who eats that dumpling is said to be blessed with longevity. Plat­ing mat­ters too. Dumplings should be arranged in lines on a plate or plat­ter, not in cir­cles. This indi­cates for­ward momen­tum rather than a life just going in cir­cles.

The rooster rules with clar­ity, moti­va­tion and a fierce inde­pen­dence. Bring on the enthu­si­asm for the com­ing year. Gung Hay Fat Choy!