Celebrating the year of the ox

February 12 marks the beginning of a very special time for the Chinese and several other cultures, as it is the beginning of the lunar new year. This year ushers in the Year of the Ox, but there is more than just the return of this second animal zodiac symbol at play, as CNN explains. In addition to the 12-year cycle of zodiac animals, there is also “a complex sexagenary cycle — a combination of one of 10 heavenly stems and one of 12 earthly branches.” This is a xin year according to the cycle, and since “Xin” represents the heavenly stem for the element metal, that makes this the Year of the Metal Ox.

Celebrations of the lunar new year involve plenty of food traditions. People in the northern part of China celebrate with dumplings, while in the South they are more likely to nosh on spring rolls or tangyuan. For sweets, Nian gao, also known as “rice cake” or “New Year cake” in English, are a must for Chinese New Year. Many of the traditional New Year’s foods are symbols of good luck and prosperity in the coming year. 

If you are looking for ideas for your festive meal, Australian Gourmet Traveller offers several recipes, including a raw fish salad loaded with “hectic symbolism” to a soup whose name doubles as a greeting on the day. Here are more options from the EYB Library:

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