Monday, January 26, 2009

Another Lunar New Year... The Year of the Ox

Throughout the world, the New Year according to the Lunar Calendar is being celebrated. Areas in China hard-hit by earthquake nonetheless express their hope and joy in new beginnings through dance, music and the display of calligraphic banners with messages of prosperity and happiness.

In the DPRK in North Korea, musicians perform concerts in Pyongyang. A shopkeeper displays a calligraphic banner in his window in Tibet.

The year that begins is dedicated to the Ox or Buffalo, an animal who symbolises prosperity through hard work and fortitude. As much of the world now considers itself to be in a state of economic 'recession' or 'depression', perhaps the Ox is an apt symbol of hope for the future in the current situation.

The Year 2009 is the 4706th year according to the Chinese lunar calendar based on the reign of the first king of China, who is known as the Yellow King. He became king in 2697 B.C. Using a cycle of 60 Stems or branches in their counting system , the Ox is the 26th Stem or Branch in the cycle. Some dispute the total, claiming that 2009 will mark the 4707th year. Whichever you choose to accept, it is an extremely old calendar, far more ancient than the solar Calendar we currently follow in the West.

Here is an old post of mine about Lunar New Year customs:

Gung Hay Fat Choy

Sweets are a traditional accompaniment to any festive occasion. Although Fried Bananas may not be de rigueur where any celebration of the Lunar New Year is concerned, they are one of my personal favourites. Here is a recipe:

4 Bananas, peeled and sliced diagonally, into pieces that each are an inch in thickness.

Beat an egg with 1/4 cup water, mixing it gradually with 1/2 cup flour to create a smooth batter for the bananas. Coat each banana piece thoroughly with the batter, setting them aside.

While the oil is being heated for deep-frying, make a syrup by boiling 1/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water. When the mixture becomes thick, add 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and allow the mixture to cool.

When the oil is hot, fry each banana in its batter until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes for each. When ALL banana pieces have been cooked and drained of excess oil, reheat the syrup for a moment, then coat each banana piece in it.

Four bananas will make approximately 20 pieces which should be served warm. You can serve them with vanilla ice cream...

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