Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is a time for celebration for many Chinese Australians. Christmas is not celebrated by many Chinese families as they don’t traditionally subscribe to Christianity. Therefore, the Spring Festival is the time of year that families focus on celebration, gifts and rituals.
In Chinatowns across the world, many of these traditions are adhered to offering a slice of home for Chinese migrants and expats. These include banquet dinners, lion dances and places to buy decorations. Kicking off on Saturday, January 28, the celebrations are open to all to share this cultural experience.
The Lunar New Year begins on January 28. Often families will gather on the New Year’s Eve for a dinner made up of meaningful dishes. Extra-long noodles signify longevity in life and spring rolls (named for their popularity during the Spring Festival) are favoured for resemblance to a gold bar – signifying wealth. Round golden fruits (like tangerine, orange and pomelo) are also gifted or eaten, for luck and prosperity.
You could host a dinner party at home with close friends or family, or attend one of the many restaurants that offer a banquet menu throughout the New Year. Celebrations last 15 days so there are plenty of opportunities if you miss out on a banquet booking.
Here’s our selection of a few favourite Chinese restaurants, and some detail on the banquets offered:
T-Chow offer two banquets, one upscale (set price, feeds 10 people) with dishes like steamed whole fish, abalone and lobster ginger noodles. The smaller group option includes san choy bow, T Chow tender duck and salt and pepper squid. Explore the full menu here.
For those looking to add some extra spice to their banquet dinner, head along to T-Chow on January 27, 28 or 29 to enjoy lion dance performances alongside dinner.
Park Lok offers similar small and large menus, but with a six to eight person menu (instead of needing a group of 10). It includes ginger lobster, seafood combination hotpot, braised pork trotter and special fried rice. Abalone makes an appearance served with mushroom and vegetables. Check out the full menu here.
House of Chow, located a little further from Chinatown, hosts a banquet menu for the New Year celebration period. Garlic Moreton Bay bug tails, sizzling Mongolian beef and salt and pepper barramundi are staples for $53 a head, and beef with broccoli, sweet and sour pork, and sesame toast grace the $45 option.
Other venues like Ding Hao, Red Chilli, House of Chow, Star House, Kingdom Chinese and Dragon Court Seafood Restaurant offer an annual banquet too, but don’t list this year’s options online. Be sure to call and book your place, since tables fill up fast.
Image: Chinatown Adelaide Facebook, photographer: Phong Hoàng
On February 4 the Chinatown Adelaide of South Australia group hosts the annual Lunar New Year Party, on Moonta and Gouger streets. The party will host traditional lion dances, martial arts performances by SA Wingchun Martial Arts and a myriad of stallholders selling street food and drinks. The street party is a great way to get a taste of the fun that Chinese New Year has to offer, without booking an elaborate feast, or cooking one at home.
Between the celebrations, Chinese people will traditionally use the time to spend time with relatives and friends. Although the festival runs for 15 days, many people choose to return to work on the 8th day, due to 8 being a lucky number. You can expect most businesses in Chinatown to resume trade then, from February 4.