Midnight is approaching, the minutes ticking down to a new year in the lunar calendar. I love the colors cutting through the black Beijing skies and the little bursts of momentary booms. I especially love those fireworks that go up alone, so that when they burst you can even hear a sort of trailing sound afterward.
The Lunar New Year is usually a big family celebration. But being in Beijing means we are far from both our Philippine and Korean family. And so we are on our own to create our own Chinese New Year.
Fortunately, our local best friends asked us over on the last day of the year. Our children are good friends and were naturally really excited to go over to their big sister’s and big brother’s house.
Our friends’ children were still napping when we arrived, and so we waited until they woke up to prepare food. My two kids were playing on their own while, as usual, us wives stuck together as our husbands chatted over at the couch, like it always has been ever since our families became friends.
Our husbands were friends first—MBA classmates through the Olympic year. The year my husband and I returned to Beijing as a married couple, his classmate connected me and his wife, B. B and I started out as language partners but ended up being great friends.
We started preparing dinner when her children had woken up. Her children were adorable, practically bouncing off the walls in excitement at hearing that food was ready.
My friend single-handedly prepared all this for us in a span of a few hours. What makes this meal especially unique is the Lotus Root Soup with Ribs (排骨藕汤, read as Paigu Ou Tang), which is a traditional dish eaten during Chinese New Year in our friends’ native province, Wuhan. That’s the brown soup you see in the middle of the dishes.
Sometime after dinner, the older children started bouncing around again, this time because of the fireworks lighting up the sky. My younger daughter was freaked out—it’s her first time to hear fireworks. She screamed and ran into my arms. This only lasted for a while though, soon she was also curiously looking out the window at colorful tiny explosions that she had by then known wouldn’t be hurting her.
One challenge I often find while living in China is how I miss my family and think back to our own old traditions. But it’s thanks to these friends of ours, like my dear friend B and her family, that makes these celebrations just as endearing. I’m very thankful that her family welcomed us to their home this Chinese New Year’s Eve and that we were able to have a beautiful family dinner together. 🙂
Have a happy Chinese New Year everyone! Gongxi Facai! May all your dreams come true!
P.S. If you liked learning a bit about Lunar New Year traditions in Asia, then you’ll like my Lunar New Year Celebrations collection!