Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, is a chance to start fresh, see loved ones and share in the hope of good things to come. The Stony Brook University community will celebrate the Year of the Tiger on February 1 with an event hosted by the Faculty Student Association (FSA) at East Side and West Side dine-in locations.
It is one of the most important holidays in China, where celebrations run from the eve of the start of the lunar calendar until the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the new lunar year. It is also celebrated all over the world in other Asian nations such as Vietnam and South Korea.
“I am very excited about this year’s celebration because we are able to provide authentic cuisines from many cultures along with a traditional Chinese lion dance performance and activities with student groups,” stated Dawn Villacci, director of West Campus Dining Services.
The 12-year Chinese zodiac calendar is represented by 12 different animals. Chinese tradition believes that those born in a year associated with an animal acquire the characteristics of that particular animal. The tiger can be seen as symbolizing strength, bravery, independence and loyalty.
“The zodiac sign Tiger is a symbol of braveness, courage and ambition. The Year of the Tiger comes with making big changes, overcoming challenges and getting ready to take on adventures,” explained Trista Lu, assistant director, Office of Global Affairs.
This holiday, like many holidays in other cultures, is centered around food. For the Lunar New Year celebration at dine-in, CulinArt cultivated a delicious menu with carefully chosen dishes associated with luck, including fish (the Chinese word for it sounds like the word for “surplus”) and foods that look like gold ingots (like spring rolls).
Breakfast features ginger rice congee and dim sum — red bean bao buns with sesame and sweet milk, chicken siu mai dumplings with soy dipping sauce and vegetable spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce. Oranges, known to symbolize luck, were part of the feast.
Dinner features Korean vegetarian rice cake soup with egg, seaweed and sesame, soybean sui mai dumplings with soy dipping sauce, lotus buns with sliced duck, scallion and plum sauce, crispy whole fish stuffed with ginger, sweet and sour sauce, silky tofu with garlic, black bean and scallion, sesame vegetable longevity noodles, Shanghai bok choy stir-fry and sweet-sticky eight treasure rice.
Many of the menu items have a symbolic meaning such as:
Eight treasure rice: The dish name contains the number eight pronounced as 发/”fa” in Cantonese, which means getting rich or becoming wealthy. So consuming this dessert at the end of the new year’s meal means it will bring you fortune and wealth in the coming year. Eight Treasure Rice – 八宝饭 / Symbolic Meaning: 吉祥平安，财源滚滚 Good fortune and prosperity.
Spring rolls: A symbol of wealth and prosperity. The lucky saying for eating spring rolls is “Hwung-Jin Wan-Lyang,” which means “a ton of gold.” Spring Rolls – 春卷 / Symbolic Meaning: 吉祥如意 Good fortune and may all of your wishes come true.
Whole fish: Many regions in China have a whole fish on display on their New Year’s Eve dinner table, but it is not meant for eating. They save it for the next day (the first day of the next year), which symbolizes good luck/fortune and wealth that is with your family this year will be carried over to the next year. Crispy whole fish stuffed with ginger sweet and sour sauce: 糖醋鱼 / Symbolic Meaning: 年年有余 May the coming year be even more prosperous and enjoyable than the previous years.