“Gung Hay Fat Choy 恭喜发财” Translation: “Congratulations and have a prosperous year.”
Chinese New Year is the time for family, for reflection and to express gratitude. It brings forth the year of the honest and courageous rooster, promising prosperity and hope. It is a beautiful time of the year, when traditional customs are followed and lots of tea related ceremonies are practised. And yes, there is a tea-drinking ritual just for Lunar New Year.
Tea has been a great inspiration and medium to appreciating Chinese heritage, where it is respected as an elixir for spiritual consciousness. Traditionally tea ritual begins in the morning on the first day of Lunar New Year at home or the home of relative. Everyone will be dressed in their best, ideally new clothes. The elders will be seated in the most prominent chairs to pray and pass blessings down to the youngest, through every cup of tea being served using both hands. If the cup has a handle, it is offered to the elder with the handle pointing to the elder’s right hand. If the cup is handleless, it should be offered on a saucer or small tray. As the elder sips tea, the younger will express good wishes, elder then gives the younger a red packet and returns the good wishes. Plate of treats filled with assorted sweets are also customarily shared with family and friends present at the ceremony, to bring the sweetness into one`s life and to compliment the tea.
The final day draws the fifteen days of this grand Lunar new year festivities, with sea of vibrant colorful lanterns filled with messages or prayers for love, fortune and happiness. It is said when a cup of tea is revered, brewed and shared with people, it brings a sense of happiness and prosperity.
The ritual may seem a little archaic to some but it is not only deeply symbolic of Chinese culture in its deference to the elders, it reminds the participants of three important things: health, family and a positive outlook for the coming year.
Shouldn’t everyone’s new year start with a cup of tea like this?
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