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Chef Ken Hom reveals some traditions – and superstitions – for Chinese New Year

Start with a firecracker and let the children behave badly: It's Chinese New Year on February 8th! Here's how to have an authentic celebration...

Posted: 8 January 2016

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year kicks off on February 8 – and 2016 is the Year of the Monkey.

Here, celebrity chef Ken Hom shares his tips on how to host the perfect Chine New Year Banquet:

“Shooting off firecrackers on the eve of Chinese New Year is our way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year – and don't forget that on the stroke of midnight, every door and window in the house has to be open to allow the old year to go out," says chef Ken Hom.

“Chinese New Year is a social event as families always love to eat together – that is why we use a round table, so that food and conversation can be shared. Once you have the family together, you can start to prepare your banquet. Don't forget to include these ingredients:

* Chicken for fortune
* Fish for prosperity
* Noodles for longevity (never cut noodles)
* Duck is a symbol of fidelity
* Vegetables represent cleansing of the system
* Wontons represent gold ingots (wealth)
* Seaweed for wealth

Chinese New Year is steeped in superstition. Here are just some of the ones you might come across:

* The entire house should be cleaned before New Year's Day. On the eve of Chinese New Year, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and other cleaning equipment should be put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away.

* On the stroke of midnight, every door and window in the house has to be open to allow the old year to go out.

* All debts have to be paid by this time (oh dear). Nothing should be lent on this day, as anyone who does so will be lending all the year. Back when tinder and flint were used, no one would lend them on this day or give a light to others.

* If you cry on New Year's Day, you will cry all through the year (oh dear, again). Therefore, any behaviour from children is tolerated without punishment, even though they are very mischievous (so there are some compensations in your child's eyes!).

* On New Year's Day, you are not supposed to wash your hair because it would mean you would have washed away good luck for the New Year. Again, this is likely to go down rather well with children. 

* A home is thought to be lucky if a plant blooms on New Year's Day, as this foretells the start of a prosperous year.

* It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom so that is why everyone, even the sick, should get dressed and sit in the living room.

* Do not use knives or scissors on New Year's Day as this may cut off fortune.

Whilst many Chinese people today may not believe in these traditions and customs, some are still practised. Most families believe that it is these very traditions that provide continuity with the past and provide the family with an identity.

For more tips and recipes on hosting your own Chinese New Year celebration, visit www.kenhom.co.uk

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