Ushering in the Year of the Ox

How time flies! So glad we finally sent off the dreadful Year of the Rat. Hope that we will truly turn the corner with the pandemic in the Year of the Ox.

There are so many Chinese New Year traditions that we observed when I was growing up. The girls cannot experience the holiday the same way we did in Singapore. I try to maintain some of the traditions as best I can, hoping they can remember and carry on the traditions themselves. Despite the difficult times we are in, so proud we managed to observe quite a few customs ushering in the Year of the Ox.

My Bangawan Solo cookie tins were empty after a year of lockdown. We postponed our trip back to Singapore twice and finally decided to cancel the trip and wait for the vaccines. Last weekend, Ashley and I made pineapple tarts and hazelnut cookies to fill up the cookie tins. Eating and serving Pineapple Tarts is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the family. These beautiful cookie tins sure came in handy to jazz up the festivities. It was also good fun to be baking cookies together with Ashley in the short week she spent with us over the New Year. Cookies, checked.

Enough to fill the cookie tin?

With cookies taken care of, I turned my attention to hunting for peach blossoms (桃花). We always had peach blossom and daffodils (水仙花) during Chinese New Year. Decorating with blooming flowers symbolizes the coming of Spring and a prosperous new year. After searching multiple stores here, I concluded there is no peach blossoms nor daffodils to be found in Scottsdale. We turned to orchids instead. Very satisfied with this arrangement and burst of colors 😊. Flowers, checked.

Indulged in several pots of orchids.

Hillary and Hanna came home on New Year’s Eve. Thankful that despite the pandemic, the family can get together for a reunion dinner. I chose to do hot pot, a common tradition in Singapore. Having hot pot signifies the coming together of the family. We had a great time cooking and grilling seafood, dumplings, vegetables, and wagyu beef together. Hot pot, checked.

Hot Pot dinner of seafood, vegetables, and wagyu beef

As always, the girls get Ang Pows (red packets) on New Year’s eve. I asked to borrow Hillary’s to take a picture and guess where she kept her ang pows? Under her pillows of course! 😁 Our years of keeping up with the Ang Pow tradition has paid off! The red packets are meant to bring good luck and ward off the evil spirits. We always told them to keep the ang pows under the pillow to ward off bad dreams! Ang Pows, checked.

Borrowed Hillary’s Ang Pows

A Singaporean celebration of Chinese New Year is incomplete without Lou Hei (捞起). This is none other than the tossing of the signature Yu Sheng. Lou Hei means tossing up good fortune. The higher you toss, the more prosperity it’s purported to bring. Lou Hei, checked.

Like my happy Ox?

With Ashley home, Chinese New Year celebration is also incomplete without 煎年糕 (fried sweet rice cake). She is the rice cake monster in the family, and reminded me multiple times to fry the rice cake. 年糕 symbolizes progress year after year. I gladly obliged and hope everyone does better every year. As always, to suit everyone’s preference, I had to make two types of 煎年糕, with and without taro. 年糕, checked.

年糕 with sweet potato and taro.
年糕 only fried in thin batter.

With so many different traditions and practices to bring in good luck and good fortune, may the 牛 year bring health and prosperity to everyone. Happy 牛 Year!

Our New Year day dinner with Lou Hei and Chilli Crab, Fatt Choy, and Five Spice Chicken. Extreme indulgence!
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