How to spend Lunar New Year in Finland

The Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) is fast approaching. As you can guess it will be today’s topic as in so many other blogs. Sadly, I have never experienced it in China as both me and my wife had never time to fly back and visit her family during that period of the year. So what‘s left for someone like us to experience at least something of the real Chinese celebrations? You guessed right, not so much here in Finland but we try to survive with whats available. Here is some of the stuff we can do in this icy country:

 

Chinese New Year Celebration in Helsinki

Even Helsinki has its own Chinese New Year celebration since 2007. This year the event starts around 3.30pm in the city center. There will be Kung Fu performances, Lion dances, CCTV Gala life on a big screen, Dragon dances, Music performances, Fireworks and a lot of food stalls. As you can see it has some interesting stuff but the problem with the whole thing is that the entire event is outside. Now let me tell you that being outside in Finland during January means temperatures between -10°C to -20°C (14°F to-4°F) and this means it is no real pleasure to be there for several hours. This year we will avoid this event (as we have several times before as it is too cold) because my wife is during that time in her 39th pregnancy week and it would be just too much for her.

 

Hanging out with friends

Yes, this is pretty much a classic for many Chinese abroad during New Year. What to say except it is most likely a very nice place to be if you are far away from home and want to have good food and enjoy your time with friends without freezing to death in Helsinki center. To be honest, I have never experience such gathering but I heard about it from other Chinese and saw great pictures.

 

Watching TV at home and overeat on food

This is my longtime favorite during all celebrations in winter time.  What is better than being inside a warm and cozy home while snow and ice are threatening human kind just beyond your windows? Right, nothing! This year again my wife and I will be home, watch TV and eat a lot of Chinese food. Here is a little list of what has to be there for us on New Year at home.

  • CCTV New Year Gala (中国中央电视台春节联欢晚会). This is a pretty popular show as it has according to Wikipedia a viewership of over 700 million. As we don’t have any means to install a satellite dish here to get Chinese TV we just watch it like many other over streaming platforms such as PPS.

 

  • Jiaozi 饺子 in all its different forms. Okay, just a couple of them. This year again my wife will prepare some of these delicious little things with meat and with vegetable filling. As she prefers the boiled version of it the majority will be of course swimming in boiling water. Thankfully she also has a big heart and will fry a selection just for me.

 

  • Tangyuan 汤圆 will be also joining the food table. These lovely little things you can easily get from most Asian Stores. They are frozen and only need to be put into boiling water. For us we will go for the red bean paste filling and the peanut filling (for me again!).

 

  • Sunflower and melon seeds. Nothing is better than these seeds to get every corner of your sofa and rest of the apartment dirty within seconds.

 

  • Mandarin oranges. Alright, can’t really explain this one but they just have to be there (probably because of the refreshing taste)

 

  • Some Chinese beer. Here it usually fails. In Finland you can only get standard Tsingtao Export for 2.60€ a bottle (or something around that price) and that is just too much so I will most likely end up with green tea and coffee for the entire day. I would love to fly quickly to China, grab myself a pack of Hans Beer and fly back but my finances are not really allowing this option…

 

What you usually do during Lunar New Year when you are in a foreign country? Any additional tips for us?

 

 

12 thoughts on “How to spend Lunar New Year in Finland”

  1. It’s awesome that you have prepared some great food to celebrate the Lunar New Year! And by the looks of the video, there seems to be a wonderful celebration in Helsinki! Enjoy the festivities with your family and friends. Gongxi Fa Cai – Happy Year of the Horse!! 🙂

  2. It sounds like you have a great Lunar New Year planned! Just be careful with those sunflower and melon seeds 😉 Are you going to get fried Chinese prawn crackers too (they are like junk food, each piece is quite large, quite flat and crispy)? They were always served to me when I visited relatives in Malaysia this time of the year. And they were my favourite New Year food goodies.

    It’s summer now in Melbourne and this entire week it’s around 40’C – really hot so very unlikely I will be going out to see the lion dances and firecrackers in the city.

    1. Oh yes, I forgot already about the pawn crackers. Either I will buy a bag of them or we also still have the version you can make yourself (just throw them into a frying pan with enough oil)..

      Seems that in Melbourne it is the exact opposite to here. You have it too hot there and we have it too cold to stay outside 🙂

      1. Make-your-own prawn crackers are definitely the best! When we still ate them, we would store them away in metal tins. Definitely too hot here in Melbourne. Since the temperature will be over 40’C this weekend, I think the city will cancel the firecracker shows in Chinatown. Just too hot. And you over there, just too cold 🙂

  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year

    There you go. There are way, way too much to write, so wiki is faster. 😛

    I usually duck out of China during the New Years, since the joke in Beijing is that during the week coming up now, you can’t even get a donkey cart out of town. Some locals would be happen though, since the air pollution problem is so much better during the holidays.

    Did you guys clean the house, take out the trash, and collected all your debts? Be sure to prepare red packet money too.

    Dumplings should be boiled because they “float” to the top (while pan frying will mean “squeezing them down). You can only cook it a short time before 12 am, so you can eat it then. It’s important to preserve the shape, and you can’t break the skin while cooking.

    No Hotpot, sweet and sour fish or cured meats? Oh, almost forgot, what you eat is heavily influenced by where you are from. The Lunar New Year shopping trip or preparing annual goods was the most important shopping trip for a Chinese wife back then.

    Gambling is also a favourite past time during New Years, Mahjong and dice are popular.

    Oh, remember, no cursing!

    I might make a post about this too.

    Enjoy the holidays! 🙂

    1. Oh so many more tips. I think I should convince my wife for some nice hot pot but I won’t tell her about the shopping due to obvious reasons.

      Apartment is cleaned, sadly we have no debts to collect and this time we don’t visit anyone so we can save the red pockets 🙂

      1. The shopping is mainly for food – sweets, ingredients for the week long marathon cooking, gifts for the family, and other special foodstuffs that only comes out during Lunar New Years. The cured sausages are quite awesome.

        The celebrations in China isn’t as traditional as those outside due to obvious reasons. It wasn’t until recently that some traditional practices have resurfaced. Personally, the celebrations in HK, Singapore or Taiwan might be more fun for me. IIRC, most of my celebrations in China usually only involves the dinner at the eve and the tv show, oh and the fireworks. That could be just my personal experiences though, but my celebrations in other sino-sheres tend to be more elaborate and more boisterous.

        Oh, btw, you would need a new outfit for the new year! You need to change the outfit after 12 am. Underwear is very important depending on your birth year. If you are a horse (same as the coming year), then make sure you get red underwear. Discard the old, welcome the new and drive away misfortune and invite fortune, that kind of thing.

        Have fun! 🙂

      2. The cured sausages are really good. We have a pack in our freezer ready for new year.

        We don’t follow any real traditions on new year and neither did my wife follow any with her family back in China. Basically it’s just around a week of eating with the family and red pockets for them.

        Usually we are not that kind of into all these fortune/misfortune things but in the rabbit year we both got some red underwear just to be on the safe side and for the laughs (both of us are born in the same rabbit year) but otherwise we don’t take anything really serious.

  4. In Texas my wife made friends of people who ran a Chinese restaurant near our home. On the night of Chinese New Year, they closed the restaurant to the public, threw a big party for the employees (Chinese, American and Mexican) with lots of authentic Chinese dishes. for Beer we drank Corona, Heinekin, Shiner (beer brewed in Texas) and ye olde Budwiser. Here in NE China, the preferred beer is a local brand called Bing Chuan.

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