Yangyang and his family moved to the Netherlands four years ago and have been part of the BSN community ever since. Lynn, Yangyang’s mum, shared some reflections about the Chinese New Year and how her family celebrates it.
The importance of the New Year:
“New Year is a joyful moment! It is all about family get-togethers, embracing the present, looking forward and letting the past go. It’s a moment to start fresh, and so I feel a sense of optimism and positivity for the New Year to come.”
How celebrations have changed over the years:
Celebrating the Chinese New Year in the Netherlands is different from the celebrations that she enjoyed growing up. Lynn points out that it is not only because she lives abroad that there is a different feeling to the festivities.
“The celebrations for the New Year have changed, and the significance is different now than it was 35 years ago. It used to be that this occasion was the rare time in the year that children got new clothing and money from their families. For some families, the get-together was like a once-a-year event during the Spring Festival. The abundance and gathering of the New Year was something special in my memories when I was a little girl. Now, life is much easier for most people, and new clothing and diversified food are enjoyed more often. Abundance is no longer a problem. Also, families are not as large as before, and they can easily choose to get together thanks to convenient transportation. For example, some of my family members live abroad, so there are fewer people that can participate in such gatherings.”
“When I was young, I remember how my mother and grandmother would cook and bake for many days before the New Year. They would make delicious steamed bread and various fried cookies that I love. Many of the dishes were time and labour intensive: for example, they would smoke fish and make fried vegetable and meatballs. The time and work required to prepare these dishes make them very special and are a cherished memory for me. But nowadays, such food is not prepared by many families.”
Celebrating this year:
“On New Year’s Eve, we make special dumplings together. Though we eat dumplings at other times during the year, this recipe is particular and uses Chinese chives, prawns and meat. Mixing and making them together is just as important as eating them, and it’s something that Yangyang enjoys doing.”
We will try to have as many dishes as possible (according to tradition, there should be as many as possible and always an even number); we will prepare a fish dish because it is the auspice of abundance. Also, we might cook a type of seafood hotchpotch with many ingredients that is meant to bring the whole family good fortune.”
We have traditional decorations on our door and windows specifically for the New Year, and of course, there is lots of the colour red. Yangyang always gets his red envelope with some money in it.”
Before moving to the Netherlands in 2017, Xiaohan Lin (Lynn) worked at the Dalian University of Foreign Languages as a lecturer. She is a State-Certified Counsellor in Psychology in China, and psychology is still her interest and focus. She enjoys spending time here in the Netherlands with her family and friends.