Get ready for Chinese New Year

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That’s right, every year I give you a primer on celebrating Chinese New Year, and since a lot of the lucky treats are already out, I thought I should give you a head start. The Year of the Wood Horse starts on January 31 and is supposed to bring fast victories, unexpected adventure, and surprise romance. Whee! No wonder I am looking forward to it.

One of the first things you might do to celebrate the new year is head to Sing Cheong Yuan in Chinatown, a one-stop shop for lucky dried fruits, li see candy, New Year toong mai (puff rice cakes) and perennial favorites like char siu bao, peanut candy, almond cookies and banana roll mochi. And I promise, I’m not trying to promote just one store; Sing Cheong Yuan really is the only place to go for all of these items at once.

In old times, Chinese people filled a red lacquer box with six or eight candied items. These were served with tea in a symbolic ceremony for the New Year. (Today, we give it to you in a red cardboard box. Same same but different.) If you want to really be Chinesey, put a few pieces of these candied fruits and vegetables at the bottom of teacups before filling with tea to offer in your ceremony. Each item carries specific auspicious meaning, but most people don’t know this, so it’s okay to put almost any item in now. If you want to do it right, here’s a quick guide in pictures, below, to tell you what each item symbolizes. If you want the full list, click here.

Sing Cheong Yuan

Sing Cheong Yuan is a one-stop shop for all your Chinese New Year goodies. Depending on your taste, you will find an array of sweets and savories — some available year round, others only at New Year.

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Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery
1027 Maunakea St.
808-531-6688
Facebook: Sing Cheong Yuan
Email: aloha@singcheongyuan.com

Here are the upcoming events in Chinatown that are free and open to the public. Bring your dollar bills to feed the lions!

Chinese New Year Festival
Friday and Saturday
January 17 and 18
 ~ 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Chinatown Cultural Plaza
by the United Chinese Coalition

64th Annual Narcissus Festival, Choy Cheng (lion dances), and Chinatown Open House
Friday, January 24 ~ 5 to 9 p.m.
Streets of Chinatown
by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii

Chinatown New Year Celebration
Friday and Saturday
January 24 and 25 ~ 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Chinatown Cultural Plaza
by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii

Night in Chinatown
 Street Festival
Saturday, January 25
 ~ 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Hotel and Smith Streets
by the The Chinatown Merchants Association

Night in Chinatown Parade
Saturday, January 25
 ~ 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Hotel Street
by the The Chinatown Merchants Association

Chinese New Year Festival
Friday and Saturday
January 31 and February 1
 ~ 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Chinatown Cultural Plaza
by the United Chinese Coalition

Do you feel ready now? Next week: Making your own gau (and where to deliver my sample).

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