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The year of the goat


On 19th February 2015, Chinese people around the world will ring in 4713, the year of the goat

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in Chinese culture. The eve marks the start of a new year – each of which is depicted by one of the 12 zodiac animals, according to the lunisolar Chinese calendar.

Also known as Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is the longest holiday in the Chinese calendar. It begins on New Year’s Eve – the date of which changes every year – and continues until the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month.

The holiday is all about spending time with family and preparing for a prosperous year.

The holiday isn’t only celebrated in mainland China but also countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and of course by Chinese communities outside of Asia.

During this time, you can expect to see streets, houses, shops and restaurants decorated in the lucky colour red, as well as lanterns and scrolls with poems. It’s also tradition to exchange gifts, the most popular of which is a little red envelope with money inside, commonly given to children and the elderly.

Naturally, no celebration is complete without food. Chinese New Year is about eating dishes that are thought to be lucky based on their name or appearance. Fish is common – the Chinese word for fish, yú, also means surplus – as are dumplings, glutinous rice cakes and sweet rice balls.


The legend of Nian

There are various tales about how Chinese New Year began.

According to one legend, it all started with a mythical beast called Nian. The story goes that the beast would destroy villages on the first day of the New Year, eating livestock, crops and even children. To protect themselves, villagers placed food at their doors and the attacks stopped. One day, a villager was visited by a deity that told him to put red paper and firecrackers outside his house to get revenge on Nian. Believing the beast was afraid of the colour red, the villagers all hung red lanterns and red scrolls just before the New Year. Nian never came to the village again.



On the days leading up to the New Year, Chinese families thoroughly clean their homes, sweeping away the bad luck from the previous year and preparing their homes for a year of good luck. Some may even re-paint doors and window-frames with a lick of red paint.


Chinese New Year in the capital

Li Jiang

This Asian outlet is ringing in the New Year with a set menu featuring traditional dishes. The five-course feast includes the likes of yú cheng salad – a raw fish dish with shredded vegetables that’s considered a symbol of prosperity and abundance. Following the salad tossing ceremony, guests can enjoy a barbeque lamb fillet and other Li Jiang specialities. AED 500++ for two guests. 17th-24th February, 7pm-midnight.

The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, Khor al Maqta’a. Contact: 02 818 8282 [email protected] www.ritzcarlton.com


Shang Palace

The festivities at Shangri-La Hotel get off to a roaring start on 19th February with a customary lion dance ceremony in the lobby at 11.30am. Guests can also enjoy a four-course set menu in the hotel’s signature restaurant, Shang Palace. Expect the likes of double boiled mock shark’s fin, eu-fu noodles with river prawns and spicy scallop sauce and pan-fried sticky rice cake. AED338++ per person. 18th February to 4th March. 7pm-11.30pm.

Contact: 02 509 8555 [email protected] www.shangri-la.com



This trendy restaurant and lounge takes inspiration from the wishing tree tradition by collecting guests’ hopes for 2015. Head to Hakkasan in Emirates Palace, pick up a ribbon and write down your wish for the year ahead. While you’re there, sit down for a nine-course festive feast. The limited edition menu features dishes that put a contemporary spin on traditional Cantonese cuisine. Think golden fried soft shell crab with red chilli and curry leaf, fried bamboo pith roll and fried pumpkin tofu with aubergine. Wrap up the meal with a kumquat wishing tree dessert with chocolate, caramelised macadamia and cocoa rocks.

Take a look at other people’s wishes on Hakkasan’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

On 19th February, lion troupes will weave their way through latticed woodwork cages in an expression of luck, fortune, wisdom and joy. AED 388++. Until 1st March. 6pm-midnight.

Contact: 02 690 7999 www.hakkasan.com 


The Galleria

The Galleria on Al Maryah Island will come to life from 18th to 21st February as it celebrates Spring Festival.

A host of activities are planned, inspired by The Seven Chinese Sisters, a story about seven siblings that each have a unique talent from karate and cooking to the ability to talk to animals. When one of the sisters is taken by a dragon, the girls use their talents to rescue her.

The tale will be brought to life by dancers, martial artists, plate spinners and aerial artists.

There will also be street performances and street food stalls along the promenade. Daily 3pm-10pm.

Contact: 02 616 6999 www.thegalleria.ae 

Rachael Peacock


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