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new year, 
two how to host a Chinese New Year's feast
by Yee-Fan Sun
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Despite all the hoopla surrounding the holiday, I've generally found December 31st festivities to be a tad overrated. The champagne is cheap and cloying; watching that big apple drop on TV always leaves me thinking, is that it? Most of my friends end up scattered all over the map for the holidays anyway, as some stay in their own pads and others head back home to parents, and inevitably it's hard to rally together a big crowd for a proper fete regardless of where I've managed to find myself come New Year's Eve. Heck, this past year, thanks to procrastinating far too long in the plane-ticket-buying department, I found myself ushering in 2006 on a cramped flight from Boston back here to the UK. In perhaps my lamest New Year celebration ever, midnight came and went for me somewhere over the Atlantic, with not even a mention over the intercom of the big event.

Fortunately, each year around now, at just about the point where any New Year's resolutions I may have made have inevitably been broken, there's another holiday looming on the horizon that offers the perfect opportunity to make up for my humdrum December 31st: Chinese New Year. Based on the lunar calendar rather than the Western one, the date of Chinese New Year varies from year to year, occurring sometime between mid-January and mid-February. This year, the big day falls on Sunday January 29th. And already, I'm planning the menu.

Though I grew up in a Chinese-American family, I have to admit that I don't remember Chinese New Year being a major holiday in our house as a kid. Thanks to the fluctuating date, I'm fairly certain my mother tended not to notice that the lunar new year was upon us until quite close to the actual day; our big Chinese New Year's dinner always seemed to be something thrown together at the last-minute. All grown up, I find that Chinese New Year seems to mean more to me now that I'm living so far from my parents and siblings. Making the foods that remind me of home is a way to bring me a little closer to the family, in spirit at least.

Even if you're not Chinese, the upcoming holiday provides a perfect excuse to throw a Chinese New Year dinner party and cure the winter blues. Here are a few ideas to get you started…

hop this way kids!

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