Chinese New Year Superstitions

February 19 of this year is the Lunar New Year ushering in the Year of the Sheep (also known as a goat or ram). For those born in 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, and 2013, this is your year!

Chinese New Year London

Photo: Paul

The Lunar new year is an auspicious time for those who celebrate. The days and weeks leading up to the lunar new year are filled with traditions all geared towards bringing the most luck and prosperity to those celebrating. It’s a time for families to reunite, eat well, and exchange gifts and well wishes for the new year.

The Chinese New Year celebrations last for 15 days with specific activities and rituals for each day of the celebration. Many of these traditions are based on word play. The tonal Chinese language has a number of homophones which results in good and bad associations depending on what the word sounds like. For example, traditionally bookstores are typically not open during the Chinese new year festivities because the word for “book” (shū書) sounds the same as the word for “to lose” (shū輸) and is bad luck.

In today’s modern world, not all traditions are followed by all families, especially those who have immigrated to other parts of the world. Regardless of whether or not you believe in these superstitions, they are fun rituals and who knows? Maybe they do bring you good luck.

Here are some fun superstitions to bring you luck and prosperity in the Year of the Sheep:

Decorate your house

Messages of good luck and prosperity are hung around the house, typically using red and gold colored banners. Red lanterns are popular as well. Like clothing, decoration items should be red in color. It brightens up the mood and brings happiness and joy.

Cleaning the house

In the weeks leading up to the new year, houses are scrubbed clean. This cleaning process rids the house of any bad fortune from the past year and makes room for good fortune to come in during the new year. This includes taking out the trash. Nothing gets thrown out during the new year.

Washing hair

Avoid washing hair on the first day of the new year as it is believed to wash away one’s wealth. The Chinese word for “hair” is a homonym for the Chinese world for “wealth” and so to insure a prosperous new year, it’s best to keep your hair unwashed.

Wearing something new and ideally red

Chinese New Year

Photo: Brian Yap

Starting the year off with new clothing means having a fresh start. Wearing new clothes also symbolizes having an abundance of clothing bringing you even more wealth in the new year. Red is encouraged because the color was believed to be able to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune, bringing you luck. Also, avoid black or white as those colors are associated with death and mourning.

No sharp objects

During the first few days of the new year, it’s best to avoid the use of sharp objects like knives or scissors as they may cut away luck. Many will get haircuts before the new year as a way to avoid using scissors. Vegetables for meals are chopped the day before.

Pay off debts

If you are in debt, it’s time to pay it off before the start of the new year. The belief is that if you start the year off owing people money, then it is likely you’ll end the year in debt as well. The same idea with lending money. By starting the year off lending money to others, it’s believed that you’ll be doing the same the rest of the year.

Enjoy spring rolls

Chinese New Year Spring Rolls

Spring rolls get their name because they are traditionally eaten during the spring festival, an alternative name for the Lunar New Year celebrations. The golden rolls look like bars of gold and are said to bring prosperity to those who eat them, so make sure you pick up a pack of Sum-m! Spring Rolls.

Wishing you all a Happy Lunar New Year and a prosperous Year of the Sheep! Gung hay fat choy!

Do you follow any of these Chinese New Year traditions?

Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Ideas from an Asian Kitchen

Are you looking for a unique gift item for your food loving friend or family member that seems to have everything? Consider some of these items which are standard items in a well-equipped Asian kitchen. With less than a week until Christmas, here are some last minute stocking ideas.

Ceramic Soup Spoons

A stack of ceramic soup spoons is a wonderful addition to the kitchen pantry. Avoid burning your tongue on a too hot metal spoon. They come in a variety of colors and patterns as well – not just the plain white or blue and white patterns that you see in Chinese restaurants.


30 Days of Kindness – Giving Back to Richmond Family Place

Here at Fine Choice Foods we believe in getting involved in our community and giving back to the people who have supported us through the years.

At Richmond Family Place

When the 30 Days of Kindness campaign organized by Marc Smith of 30 Day Adventures popped up on our radar, we knew we had to get involved. We knew we wanted to do something for an organization in Richmond and so the hunt began. One of our team mates, came across the Richmond Family Place and remembered her experiences using a similar facility when she was a new mom. The support they gave her and many families in her community was invaluable. We had found our organization. READ MORE [»]

Quick and Easy Meals – Ready in 30 Minutes or Less!

This week on the Fine Choice Foods Facebook page we’re asking our fans to tell us their favorite go to easy meal for the holiday season. Many people have shown off their favorite dishes featuring foods from noodles to soup to various kinds of stir fry.

Today we’d like to share some of our favorite go to easy meals:

Fried Rice

Fried Rice at f/2.8

Photo: Kristina

Best made with day old leftover rice, fried rice can be made with anything and everything. The perfect dish for leftovers, all you need to do is chop everything up, mix it in with rice, a little soy sauce and you’re set. Here are some great combinations: READ MORE [»]

Ingredient Spotlight: Soy Sauce

Welcome to a new series where we demystify common Asian ingredients and share how you can use these items in your cooking at home. First up: soy sauce.

Soy sauce is a condiment made from fermented soybeans and can often be found in Asian cooking. It has an umami flavour which makes it great for seasoning a variety of foods. With so many different types and brands, it can be intimidating to know what to buy and how to use it. Soy sauce is a great ingredient to have in the pantry and can be used in a wide range of situations beyond Asian cooking.

Soy Sauce


The Mid-Autumn Festival and the History of the Mooncake

Today, September 8 is Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節) and families all across the world with Chinese and Vietnamese roots will be celebrating. The Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Lunar Calendar during a full moon. This date varies from year to year according to the Gregorian calendar, but usually lands in September or early October.

Mid-Autumn Festival Light-up

Lanterns set up for Mid-Autumn Festival // Photo: Choo Yat Shing

The Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates the autumn harvest and gathers families together. Everyone comes together to share a meal, light lanterns, and gaze at the moon. READ MORE [»]

BC Hydro Power Smart Award

Because of our new plant design, BC Hydro has recognized us. We’ve help to save 384,000 kWh – that’s enough to power 35 homes for a full year!

BC Hydro Power Smart Award Close UpWe’re proud to show it off among our cabinet of products.

BC Hydro Power Smart Award Cabinet

Asian Vegetables to Grow in Your Garden This Autumn

As the days get shorter, the nights get longer and summer turns into autumn, it’s time to start your winter garden. Consider adding some Asian vegetables this year for variety on your dinner table. Many are similar to vegetables you’re already likely to be growing. Here are a few of our favourites:

Instead of: Green Cabbage
Grow this: Napa (Chinese) Cabbage

Sweeter and softer than it its green cousin, Napa, or Chinese, Cabbage is oblong in shape with thick crispy steams and yellow-green leaves. Napa cabbage grows well during cooler months, but it can grow year round in milder climates. It can be harvested 50 – 80 days after planting.

Napa cabbage can be used anywhere you would normally use regular cabbage. It does well in salads and soups, and you can even use it in cabbage roll recipes. READ MORE [»]

An Interview with Terry Mitchell – Cabbage Farmer Extraordinaire

Here at Fine Choice Foods, we believe that the best ingredients make the best food. Because of this, we try to source our fresh vegetables locally whenever possible. All of our produce is delivered daily and processed right away. One of our most commonly used ingredients is cabbage so it was important to us to be able to source some of it locally.

We chatted with one of our local farmers, Terry Mitchell to talk about his farm and how our cabbage is grown before it gets to our doors.

Terry Mitchell Cabbage

FCF: When and how did you become a farmer?

TM: The farm has been in the family for several generations. I grew up farming.

FCF: What is the most surprising thing about farming?

TM: Nothing surprises me about farming anymore as I have been doing it for so long!

FCF: Does your farm follow organic practices? Why or why not?

TM: We do not farm organically as you cannot do it in a small way and we do not have the sales in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island to support our entire farm producing organically.

FCF: What is your process to growing cabbage? When do you plant it? What do you do to make sure it keeps growing?

TM: First step is the correct choice of field. You require a field that has not had a cole crop (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage etc.) in it in the previous 3 years and that will be able to be harvested in 3-6 months after the cabbage is ready.

Next step is proper field preparation so that your field is clean and soil ready. This includes ploughing, disking, cultivating and then fertilizing the field.

After the field is prepared you can plant seed direct into soil or plant transplants which have been grown in a greenhouse prior to field preparation. We prefer to plant transplants which helps us to grow faster than the weeds!!!

Final steps include fertilizing again and monitoring and controlling pests and disease.

FCF: How do you fertilize? How do you manage pests and disease?

TM: Fertilization is done mechanically with a spreader and later with a side dresser. We monitor for pests and disease and treat them as necessary.

FCF: How long does it take to grow a head of cabbage?

TM: The entire process takes approximately 80 days of growing. Certain varieties of cabbage remain in the field even in the winter until they are required to fill orders. This really helps to alleviate the cost of storage and provides the customer with the freshest and sweetest cabbage we can offer.

FCF: What else do you grow besides cabbage?

TM: We have close to 40 crops we grow including carrots, lettuce, onions, berries and parsnips.

Thanks for answering our questions for us Terry!