Just like how roast is often a staple eaten at Christmas, it is customary for the Chinese to feast on Yusheng, a raw fish salad, during the Lunar New Year.
Yee sang, yuu sahng, lo hei or ‘Prosperity Toss’ are alternate names for this salad that is typically served at the beginning of multi-course meals during the Chinese New Year. It is a dish that is a symbolism of good luck in the new lunar year ahead.
In my recent interview with 4EB FM’s Where Are You From, I suggested the Lunar New Year is the Chinese’s version of Christmas – both are family-oriented, food gorging occasions for many Asians and Westerners respectively.
What exactly makes eating the Yusheng a family affair? How do we see or define “family” through this dish?
When I was a kid, I celebrated the “Chinese New Year” in Malaysia with my family.
When we moved back to Australia seven years after living in Asia, to my confusion I learnt that the “Lunar New Year” is often used to refer to the “Chinese New Year” in Melbourne. Both phrases are used interchangeably literally everywhere here – on posters, flyers and billboards to name a few – time and time again.
Today, the Lunar New Year is widely celebrated in Australia each year.
Lion dances and Asian cultural performances on city streets are a common sight here in the weeks leading up to start of the brand new lunar calendar. Various profit/not-for-profit bodies and everyday people from all walks of life frequently and tirelessly pitch in to organise and partake in these festivities.
Giant golden snake and red lanterns. Oz departmental store Myer getting into the Lunar New Year spirit. Photo: Mabel Kwong
However, interestingly enough, the Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, holds contrasting meanings for different groups Down Under.