The Lunar New Year is coming . The New Year this year falls on a Saturday 28/1/17.

I don’t observe tradition much, as I’m forever running late .

Today is already the 20th and I haven’t started .

Marigold is called vạn thọ in Viet which means longevity.

New Year Hampers that I make every year for when we go visiting. Each household get a hamper. 

I usually make 8-10 every year. In it wine, tea, chocolates , biscuits , candied ginger and whatever else I can find. Each year is slightly different. I like to give variety. 

I tend to make an extra one for us to keep at home for our visitors to eat . 

I also need to go grab some red pockets and new notes from the bank. 

On the 23rd of the Lunar calendar the kitchen God goes back to the heavens and report back to his boss. He’s like Santa Claus he knows who has been bad or good.

So to bribe him you’d make all this yummy food to offer to him to put in a good word for you.

Ummmm may be that’s why I’ve been so unlucky lately because I always forget to bribe him 😂

Then on the 30th you’d invite all your dead relatives back to help celebrate the New Year. This is done by setting up the altar with yummy food and burning the incense. 

They then go back to the spirit realms on the 3rd of the New Year.

When I was younger dad would go shopping for food to cook for the offerings.  Altar stuff are considered sacred. 

1/ if you’ve got your time of the month you can’t touch the food. It’s forbidden. As blood is deemed dirty. 

2/ food going up to the altar are not eaten first. 

If mum cooked a whole pot of sticky rice then only once the sticky rice is set aside for the altar are we allowed to touch the left overs. 

Not that it was ever the case. As kids we’d sit patiently until the incense is burnt til the end before you’d go in do your 3 bows to get the food back down to eat cold. 

No microwave back in those days or had to turn the oven or stove on to reheat.

3/ only the best is offered . The freshest of flowers and fruits.

I remembered one year dad was being really fancy . He always buy a whole chicken and then steam or boil it to put on the altar . 

Anyhow the chicken that year I nicknamed it the tango chicken. 

Now imagine the chicken to be a girl dancing the tango. What does she have in her mouth? 

Every time I looked at the chicken I’d giggle as it’s quite funny.  

My dad must be OCD . The chicken always had to be just perfect. It had to sit nice and straight. It’s poked with skewers and tooth picks to keep the head up. Then that flower . Can’t remember if it was a carnation or a rose. Even now thinking about it makes me smile.

Then there’s the New Year suspicions to adhere to.

1/ no cutting hair or shaving or nail clipping as you’re cutting away the good luck 

2/ no sweeping or cleaning emptying of the rubbish as you’re throwing away the good luck.

3/ no screaming at kids, the little devils get a day off.

4/ no working on New Year’s Day . It means hard labour all year 

5/ no staying out past midnight on the 30th as it means if you leave after midnight you take the luck with you from the house you’re exiting.

If you enter your house on the 1st and being the first to do so you might bring disharmony into the house if you’re a grumpy person or of bad nature. 

Only a good natured person is allowed to be the first one through the door. 

6/ the fridge and pantry should be full to the brim so there’s food all year.

Just thinking about it stresses me out as now I’ll have to find time to go buy stuff for the hampers . 

Get the kids to clean up the house . Only another 8 days til New Year and we are both still working . 

One bad thing about living near an Asian suburb is that the plaza will be chockers of people preparing for the New Year like me.