Good morning dear friends! Happy Year of the Dragon!
As those of you who follow me on facebook may know, these past weeks I have been really busy, firstly, with my children’s start of nursery school, and secondly with two surprises for this blog. This is the first one, a dessert table for Chinese/Lunar New Year! I hope you like it!
The first time I learnt about Chinese New Year was 24 years ago, in another Year of the Dragon, 1988. A friend of my mother had lent her a book on Chinese Astrology by a very famous Argentinian artist and astrologer called Ludovica Squirru, and I started reading it out of curiosity and because I have always been fascinated with Asian cultures. There I discovered, to my delight, that I had been born myself in the year of the dragon and, loving mythology and fairy tales as I do, I was hooked. For many years I wondered what kind of rituals were involved in a proper celebration but it wasn’t until fairly recently, and thanks to the internet, that I could put together a real Chinese New Year celebration. If you are curious about some of the rituals involved, here is a great article by Mini Manor Blog about them.
So, this year, we have been thoroughly cleaning the house, getting rid of the old to make space for the new and, in general, reflecting on what we want to leave behind and what we hope for the new year to bring. I always reach occidental New Year in such a rush that I don’t manage to do all this by January 1st, so celebrating Chinese New Year feels like a second chance.
We did a lot of research on what was considered good luck, and my dear friend Laura, from amazing design company Delicious Tea designed this fabulous set of FREE printables, which are available on her facebook page, to welcome the year of the Dragon. I printed them on cardboard paper and, using some remains of red ribbon and red cardboard paper that I had left from Christmas, I assembled the decorations. Here is the backdrop I prepared (I used a frame I already had, and I glued the ribbons to the wall with double-sided tape)
And then there were of course, the sweets, which were a combination of store-bought and home-made.
I baked a red velvet cake, frosted it with home-made swiss meringue buttercream, and carved it into the shapes of a dragon guarding its treasure cave. Everything in the cake is edible, even the coins and the wings, which were made with fondant and painted with Gold Dust.
The cake stand was propped by the I-ching and, in front of it, I placed two Chinese balls with a Dragon and a Phoenix. In order to prevent them from moving, I placed them on top of votive candle holders that I got from Ikea.
I tried to keep the colour palette simple, and I made sure that all sweets were red (happiness) and gold (wealth), to give some vibrance to the black of the furniture and plates (which we brought from our years in Africa!). Sweets included chocolate truffles wrapped in gold paper (Ferrero Rocher), which we called “Chocolates of abundant wealth”…
and dark chocolate truffles wrapped in bright red paper…
We also included candied oranges and pineapples, both considered auspicious food for the New Year.
Aren’t these printable food labels a real beauty? I carved the head of the dragon with a craft knife for it to pop and, I must say, I am in love with them. Laura is such a talented designer!
I also dressed a bit some chocolate covered oreos, by drawing a dragon in red royal icing (I tried to imitate Laura’s food labels)
We also included red envelopes, filled with chocolate coins for the kids and with real money for the adults. I attached the FU symbol from Laura’s printables to them, because it means wealth.
We also served candies (for joy and laughter) and, of course, fortune cookies…or “Good Fortune Cookies”, as we calledthem 😉
All sweets were present in 6 or 9, both auspicious numbers.
We kept the table setting very simple, with bowls full of oranges and tangerines (symbolizing a wish for happiness and abundance) and a Happy New Year sign by Delicious Tea, a couple of glittered golden votive candles, bamboo place mats and a “fortune cookie place card”made with a golden cupcake wrapper.
Our dinner consisted of spring rolls, grilled fish with tangerines, served on top of lettuce leaves, rice, a brocoli and pine nuts salad, and an assortment of nuts, seeds and coconut flakes. You can read more about Chinese New Year good luck foods HERE.
On our doors and windows (from the outside) we placed this banner that reads “Wealth is coming to you”
And on the inside, this one that reads “Safe Trip wherever you go”, to greet the old year goodbye.
May you have a prosperous, healthy and happy Year of the Dragon!