The best way of celebrating the Lunar New Year is to gather with a group of friends and spend a few hours talking, singing and making dumplings (jiaozi) together.
During the chatting, gossip about other people comes up making their ears burns – that is why the dumplings are made in the shape of ears and the name jiaozi comes from that!
Well, actually that is not quite true. The reputed inventor of jiaozi was the doctor Zhang Zhongjing who, 1800 years ago, noted how his neighbours usually had frostbitten ears around the New Year. He made dumplings from mutton, chilli and herbs, wrapped them in a dough skin, boiled them and distributed them. They were shaped like ears to indicate they would de-ice the ears, warm the body and increase blood flow.
Today making dumplings represents companionship, celebration, feasting and wishing each other good luck.
Last week we had such a celebration in our house. There were plenty of dumplings with music and song from China, Korea, Japan and Ireland. No frostbite was reported but everyone enjoyed the warmth, good company and even the news that was exchanged.