Year of the Horse, Chinese New Year 2014.

January 15, 2014 by The Co-op Observer Delicious stir frys in minutes

At the end of the month Chinese communities around the world will be preparing for, and celebrating, the Chinese new year. The fifteen day festival is the most important in the Chinese calendar and finishes on the fifteen day with processions of paper lanterns.

The great cities of San Francisco and London vie for the title of biggest Chinese New Year festival outside of China, and both are worth a visit if you get the chance – although one is a heck of a lot easier to get to!

To help you celebrate Chinese New Year at home we have some great food deals and drink deals at The Co-operative, but let’s learn more about the event first.

This year it’s the Year of the Horse. A year where the new born are expected to grow to be good communicators, seeking fame and fortune. It’s a year for great travel and speedy success, and the astrologers will be busy making their auspicious predictions already.

The new year is a time for new starts in many cultures and the Chinese traditions include thorough cleaning in the preceding days. Evil spirits and bad luck are swept away – then for good measure firecrackers are let off to chase away any lurking demons. Every brush, broom and cleaning product must be finished with and stored away by new year though to avoid any risk of accidentally sweeping out the good fortune brought by the coming new year.

The animal that represents each year is part of a twelve year cycle, previous horse years have been 1966, 1978, 1990 and most recently 2002. Isaac Newton, Helena Bonham Carter and Angela Merkel are among the famous names born under the horse in years gone by.

Red is an important colour in Chinese symbolism, it represents wealth and once you’ve registered tat you’ll notice just how much red there is used in all things Chinese – not least of which is the flag itself.

At New Year red envelopes are given to younger people, in particular children, sometimes containing sweets, but usually money. The symbolism doesn’t stop there either – the amount of money in the envelope is important. It should be an even number, odd numbers are given at funerals, with 8 being the most significant, followed by 6.

Red? You even see the firecrackers are wrapped in red tissue. But one thing often associated with red that isn’t good at new year is debt – business debts are cleared if possible before new years, and even favours and debts of gratitude are settled.

So with Chinese New Year fast approaching let’s consider what we might enjoy at home and join in the spirit of the festival.

Around at your local Co-operative store there are a host of bargains to help you create a simple meal with a Chinese take.

Create a stir fry in minutes with Blue Dragon stir fry sauces and with 3 for just £1 you can try several different flavours. You’ll need noodles, so how about Amoy’s straight to wok noodles at £1? Their Soy Sauce is only £1 a bottle at the moment too.

Prawn crackers to nibble on while we cook anyone? Sharwoods ready to eat crackers are just £1, as are their noodles and cooking sauces. Chicken is an easy meat to enjoy with Chinese sauces, so snap up a chicken deal while you’re in store with fresh British Chicken thighs at half price making a big 750g pack at just £1.75.

If you have friends coming around then you could take advantage of the drink deals in store too. Carling, Fosters and Strongbow are all £3.75 for four 440ml cans, and you can snap up 10 330ml bottles of Budweiser or Stella for just £6.50.

In the centre spread of the new Food Magazine there’s an advertisement feature and recipe for great looking stir fry using the excellent noodles, sauce and stir fry vegetables from The Co-operative, and you can get all three for just £3 right now. It’s so quick, and it’s a healthier option too so you win every way.

I’m just thinking about that special number eight and wondering how I might have a dinner party for eight friends with eight (small) courses, and perhaps eight drinks as well.

Whatever you do for Chinese New Year may we wish you a prosperous and healthy year of the horse.

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