As you probably know, today, January 31, is the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year. The celebration starts on the second new moon after the winter solstice and goes on for 15 days. This year, we welcome the Year of the Horse.
According to Chinese legend, when the Jade Emperor—the Emperor in Heaven—summoned all the animals, he designated the first 12 that appeared to be calendar signs. Thus, there is a 12-year cycle of the lunar calendar, with each year represented by a different animal, with its own personality and philosophy.
If you were born in the Year of the Horse, you have such character traits as strength, energy, and an outgoing nature. You are extremely animated and thrive when you are the center of attention. Find out what your Chinese animal symbol is and what it means about you here.
You’re probably wondering what the connection is between Chinese New Year and fresh produce. Well, more than 40 years ago, our company worked with many of our growers and our retail customers to offer all sorts of Chinese vegetables like Boy Choy, Napa Cabbage, Snow Peas, Bean Sprouts, Chinese Long Beans, and Fresh Ginger Root, to name a few. It seemed that the perfect time to promote them was around the Chinese New Year holiday, which always falls in January or February.
If you can imagine, four decades ago very few U.S. growers were even producing these vegetables and even fewer supermarkets were stocking them. So, it was fun to create new packaging, promotions, and contests to get produce managers and consumers excited about these new items. Nowadays, every single market you walk into offers most of these Asian vegetables. Chinese restaurants have become ubiquitous, and if you want to order stir-fried vegetables at a restaurant, no one blinks an eye.
In fact, Chinese New Year has become so popular that this year the famed retailer IKEA created a line of products just for the holiday! And if you like Las Vegas, many of the casinos and resorts are featuring special Chinese New Year vacation packages, authentic cuisine at their restaurants, and tournaments based in Chinese culture and tradition.
So this week as you’re planning meals to serve at home—or trying to decide where to go out for lunch or dinner—think about celebrating Chinese New Year in your own special way by trying a different Chinese vegetable or dish each day. Here are some suggestions:
- Saturday: Duck and Kumquat Salad
- Sunday: Occidental Dumpling Soup
- Monday: Mushroom Spinach Potstickers (Great for Meatless Monday!)
- Tuesday: Spicy Lotus Pork
- Wednesday: Five-Spice Asian Pear and Jicama Salad
- Thursday: Frieda’s Basic Stir-fry
- Friday: Citrus Salad with Lemon Crème Dressing
Gung Hay Fat Choi! (Happy New Year!)