Chinese New Year: dinner and shousui

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Today is the day before Chinese New Year and for New Year’s Eve the tradition involves a dinner with family and relatives, in a ritual where the only rule is abundance. Many of us, Chinese and non-Chinese, are far from our homes so Omeida booked tables for all of us at a restaurant in the city center.

The place is very nice and obviously very noisy. We are all mixed up so we find ourselves being 3 westerners at a table of Chinese ladies. The table barely contains our plates, glasses and two bottles but the waitresses manage to make room for all courses. So let’s this Chinese New Year begin!

We eat in the Chinese manner, of course, which means dishes and pots in the middle of the table from which you can take whatever you like. In China you can easily spot shy people. They’re the skinny ones. Within an hour we are served pretty much everything: rice, vegetables, fish, tofu, potatoes, mushrooms, beef, pork, duck, all accompanied by Australian wine.

The evening is seasoned with yelling and laughter. We start speaking English but after a while it’s what from the outside might seem like an absolutely incomprehensible mix of languages but that we manage without a problem. The dinner ends quickly, as it had begun. Our fellow diners get up after they’ve raided everything there was and vanish in the night of New Year’s Eve.

We meet up at the same table with other abandoned diners and decide to celebrate with a little bit of Baijiu.
Tradition wants people to stay up all night or, at least, until it’s Chinese New Year (Shǒu suì 守岁) but it is quick to see how everyone of us has his own program on how to wait for the arrival of the Year of the Dog.

Some are going to see the Spring Festival Gala on CCTV (Chunwan 春晚), some will call home to greet relatives, others will spend it with friends in some club. In any case everyone will do what the Chinese have been doing for thousands of years, leaving behind the bad luck of the old year hoping to find a better one in the year that comes.

Happy Chinese New Year!!

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