Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

My hometown of Exeter has a growing Chinese population and with that comes new experiences, celebrations, food and culture. Never one to not explore all areas of my city, I was excited to be given the opportunity by InExeter to get out and about amongst the independent stores and celebrate Chinese New Year in my own way.

With Chinese New Year in Exeter running between the 5th and 19th February there is still time for you to get involved in the celebrations too. There is also a Chinese New Year Trail in and around the RAMM running until the 5th March.

The Year Of The Pig

This year is the Year of the Pig which is the twelfth of the zodiac animals. According to myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be created by the order the animals arrived to his party. In one story The Pig was late because he overslept. Another story says a wolf destroyed his house and he had to rebuild it before he could set off. When he finally arrived he could only take twelfth place. In Chinese culture, the Pig is a symbol of wealth. Recent years of The Pig have been 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007 and of course 2019.

What is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is a Chinese festival marking the start of the new year, beginning on the second new moon after the winter solstice and finishing 15 days later. It is marked by visits to family and friends, special meals, fireworks and gift giving. It is also known as Spring Festival.

How I Celebrated and What I Learnt

Whilst researching Chinese New Year I was instantly attracted to the significance of food within the celebrations. Certain dishes are eaten during the Chinese New Year celebrations for symbolic reasons. Lucky foods are eaten throughout the 16 days, particularly New Years Eve, which is believed to bring good luck for the upcoming year. The most common dishes served include dumplings, fish, spring rolls and Niangao which is a glutinous rice cake.

On top of all of this, many fruit and vegetables have significance too. I headed over to Eat Your Greens on Sidwell Street to fill my basket with “lucky foods”. Tangerines, oranges and pomeloes are considered to symbolise good luck and fortune. The more you eat of these fruits the more wealth it will bring! Tangerines and oranges are often given as gifts too to pass on prosperity. An added bonus is that citrus fruits are spectacular at this time of the year too.

For a simple cake recipe using oranges try my Blood Orange Bundt Cake. For the recipe click here. It is the perfect cake to give as a gift to celebrate Chinese New Year.

On top of citrus fruits, there are many other foods that have significance through the Chinese New Year celebrations. Melon for family unity, grapes for fertility, pineapple for excellent fortune and pomegranate for many offspring.

Moving on from Eat Your Greens with rumbling tummies we headed to Red Panda on Gandy Street for lunch. Red Panda serves tasty Asian street food to take away in the most part although there are a few seats inside to perch on if you so desire. We opted for the bao buns with a delicious salad. Great value at £7.00 and so completely delicious you’ll want to go back for more time and time again.

After a scrumptious lunch, we made our way down to Fore Street to see what vintage Chinese items we could find in Peachy Tipi and Willow Hilson Vintage.

Willow, as always, came up trumps with her menagerie of vintage pieces. I think I could pop in on any given occasion, ask for something completely random and Willow would disappear into the back room and come out with “just the thing”. Today we rummaged the rails, peeked in boxes of treasures and were even allowed behind the scenes into the aforementioned back room to find just what we were after. Beautiful Chinese silks of every colour imaginable, exquisite costume jewellery, stylish shoes and marvellous accessories. I must have lost at least an hour in there.

This kimono stole my heart as did these delightful peacock blue silk shoes. I managed to squeeze my size 5’s in but only just so unfortunately they didn’t come home with me. Someone else’s tootsies will be adorned in style on this occasion.

From Willow Hilson Vintage I crossed the street and walked a couple of doors up to Peachy Tipi. Faye the owner has an eye for the kitsch with many of her vintage pieces having started their lives in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I had popped in a few days prior to the shoot and Faye had the most perfect Chinese wall hangings. On visiting again they had sold. Great for her but bad for me and my InExeter gift card. Instead, I was taken with these darling piggy salt and pepper shakers. Perfect for the year of the Pig. I may have also been tempted with the pig baseball cap. It suits me right?

As you can see, there is plenty in the city of Exeter to help you celebrate the final few days of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Dinner parties will never be the same again with these little piggy’s on the table. If you need an outfit to celebrate stop in and say “hi” to Willow. She will have just what you need, guaranteed!

If a Chinese New Year party isn’t for you then why not head out for a bite to eat in one of Exeter’s independent restaurants that specialise in oriental cuisine. Red Panda never fails on the flavour front and you couldn’t hope for a happier welcome on your visit.

I hope my post helps you on your way to enjoying your Chinese New Year celebrations whatever they may be. I had a great day exploring Exeter’s independents. They always come up trumps.

Disclaimer: I was gifted an InExeter gift card in return for writing this post. All my views are my own as always.

3 thoughts on “Happy Chinese New Year!

  1. Hey just found you on WordPress. Here I am in Naples. Thinking of starting blogs again. Yours are sooooo detailed and professional…..need some tips re photos etc. Well done. Auntie Lorraine

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