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Happy Chinese New Year!

Right, so as per usual, my family had completely forgotten about the date Chinese New Year is on until my mother decided to randomly check the Lunar calendar. Then gasp, horror, panic and flailing all around to household! Chinese New Year is SUNDAY!

We haven't cleaned the house! The labels and posters of the Chinese New Year greetings aren't up on the walls and doors! Where on earth are we expected to find and buy red underwear to wear for Sunday? (Yes, red underwear, you read that right) Do we have enough pomelo leaves to bath in Saturday night? Do we have the right groceries for the New Year dinner? So many things and so little time!

As per norm of mothers, they also fully expect you to take the entire day off work on Monday to celebrate it without realising it's incredibly short notice! Thankfully, I was allowed the day off even though I feel a little guilty because we're getting basket orders in to be sent out for Chinese New Year. Now you're probably wondering, what ARE people sending for Chinese New Year?

Let me share some of the orders that seem to be coming in.

Fruit baskets are popular. Why? Let me try to figure out a reason here though my grasp of Chinese sayings are rather rusty to provide an adequate explanation.

ONE, the colours. There's a Chinese saying:

Hua Hua Shì jiè 
Translated literally, word by word, becomes Flower, Flower, World
I.E. "May your life be colourful, lively, majestic and vibrant'

That's why the Chinese households must always have flowers in their home on Chinese New Year. (Do you know how terrible this actually is when five our of six members of the family have hayfever? Yes, that's my family).

So the fruit baskets for it's large mixture of colours.

TWO, fruits represent life in general, so again it goes with the saying of 'May your life be lively etc.'. Apples contain the Chinese character for Peace. Oranges (oh, where to begin?) especially mandarin oranges are made of two Chinese characters: Gold and Luck. That's why they are so popular during Chinese New Year! They fly off the shelves in Hong Kong! And heaven forbid, you try to take a mandarin orange tree from a family. My mother would have your arm and an leg is you touch her tree.

But what if the recipient of the gift basket doesn't like fruits? Then fish is another choice and we do have baskets with salmon in them so we have a few orders or those going out.

Why fish? One Chinese New Year greeting:

Wàn shì rú yì 
"May all your wishes be fulfilled"

The 'rú' character is shares the same pronounciation as fish so any dinners you have during Chinese New Year must always have fish on the table. I say dinners - plural, not singular. Why?

Because Chinese New Year is a two week celebration which is great because Sunday is the first day and fresh food (fruit, fish and meat) gift baskets cannot be sent over the weekend. Since we'll still be celebrating for the new two weeks, it's perfectly fine for the basket to arrive later than Sunday.

Do remember though that if the recipient family is anything like mine, they'll be busy running around the first few days of Chinese New Year visiting friends and family and having dinners so they might not be home to sign for deliveries!

Now that my first ever contribution to the Baskets Galore blog must come to an end because I need to finish off today's work then spend the rest of the weekend giving the whole house a scrub from head to toe in accordance to having a clean start in the New Year. Wish me luck in tackling, sorting out and hopefully winning against the the contents underneath the coffee table!

Have a wonderful Chinese New Year!
Xīn nián kuài lè

- Kate

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