The 2019 Lunar New Year starts on the fifth of Feb­ru­ary. Com­ing off the Year of the Dog, this is the begin­ning of the Year of the Pig in the Chi­nese zodiac. The ele­ment for the year is Earth.

The promise for the new year is one of joy, cel­e­bra­tion and suc­cess in all areas of life.

The pig (known also as the boar) is said to be gen­er­ous, social and sta­ble.

An Earth Pig year com­bines a real­is­tic but happy-​go-​lucky socia­ble pig com­bined with the steady and sen­si­ble char­ac­ter­is­tics of Earth, it her­alds a reward­ing and pros­per­ous year. This will be a year to enjoy friend­ships and social con­tacts and come together for the com­mon good.

The care­free and easy dis­po­si­tion of the Pig can be mis­un­der­stood as lazy and irre­spon­si­ble. Pigs are, in fact, enthu­si­as­tic with every­thing that needs to be done. They fol­low through until all jobs are accom­plished. Team play­ers, they always make sure every­one does well and the goals are attained. Health-​wise, Earth Pig years are when we might need to mon­i­tor our diets more care­fully. It’s easy to overdo it on the sweets and rich foods. Gen­tler forms of exer­cise like hik­ing and swim­ming are favored over more rig­or­ous rou­tines. The sanc­tity of sleep should be hon­ored to keep our immune sys­tems strong.

Given the impor­tance of food in all Asian cul­tures, it is not sur­pris­ing that cer­tain dishes play a major role in Chi­nese New Year cel­e­bra­tions.

“Lucky” foods are served through­out the fif­teen day Lunar New Year /​Spring Fes­ti­val gath­er­ings.

Tan­ger­ines and oranges are abun­dant dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tion. The Chi­nese words for them sound like luck and wealth.

Pum­me­los, the large ances­tor of the grape­fruit, sig­ni­fies abun­dance. The Chi­nese word for this cit­rus fruit sounds like the word for “to have.” The Year of the Pig should include pum­me­los in each house­hold.

The Can­tonese word for let­tuce sounds like ris­ing for­tune, so it is com­mon to serve let­tuce wraps filled with other lucky ingre­di­ents. Longevity noo­dles sym­bol­ize a long life. Take care not to cut the lengthy noo­dles in the ramen bowl or stir fry pan.

Inspired foods of Asia lend them­selves to peo­ple of all back­grounds to enjoy. Appe­tiz­ers to desserts, from China to Viet­nam, there is a dish worth dis­cov­ery.

Ingre­di­ents are some­times exotic, other times famil­iar. Wel­come good for­tune in the new year with sym­bolic foods shared with fam­ily and friends. Make a reser­va­tion for joy­ful reunions.

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