A day for tofu
Updated: 2012-01-13 07:50
By Hu Yijun (胡逸君) (China Daily)
Apart from family reunions, preparing food is part of the fun for the Spring Festival
Your mouth will be watering if you hear this Chinese saying: (In the final lunar month) the 23rd is the day for melon-shaped malt sugar eating, the 24th for house cleaning, the 25th for tofu making, the 26th for buying meat, the 27th for preparing chicken, the 28th for leavened dough and the 29th for steaming mantou. (èr shí sān, táng guā zhān, èr shí sì, sǎo fángzi, èr shí wǔ, zuò dòufu, èr shí liù, qù mǎi ròu, èr shí qī, zǎi gòngjī, èr shí bā, bǎ miàn fā, èr shí jiǔ, zhēng mántou. 二十三，糖瓜沾，二十四，扫房子，二十五，做豆腐，二十六，去买肉，二十七，宰公鸡，二十八，把面发，二十九，蒸馒头。)
From the 25th day of the last month of the lunar year, people begin their food preparation for the Spring Festival. That is because according to the old tradition, family members are not allowed to use knives to cook on the eve and first day of the Lunar New Year.
On the second day, they begin visiting friends and relatives.
Consequently, Chinese people need to get four to five days' food done before the holiday starts.
Why make tofu? The Chinese character 腐 (fǔ) has the same pronunciation with character 福 (fú, happiness).
Making tofu also means welcoming happiness and a good harvest in the new year.
As for the food itself, tofu is a very good substitution for meat. In the old days, poor people always looked forward to a feast of meat on New Year's Day. However, they were often too poor to afford one.
So they turned to tofu, which was "in between" meat and vegetables, and made various dishes from it.
Besides making tofu, in Northeast China, people also used to paste paper on the windows on this day.
In the old days, people had to paste a layer of paper over their windows to prevent drafts and keep warm at home. Today this is still practiced in parts of northern China, although many people have replaced paper with cling wrap.
Replacing the last year's paper with new paper and pasting red Spring Festival couplets provide a jubilant atmosphere for the new year.
Stories are courtesy of The World of Chinese, www.theworldofchinese.com