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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The night before

The night before

THE biggest event of any Chinese New Year’s Eve is the dinner each family enjoys.

A banquet of up to 20 dishes will appear on the tables of Chinese families across the world, in a feast comparable to Christmas dinner in the West.

In northern China, it is customary to make dumplings after dinner and eat them around midnight. Because of their round shape they symbolise wealth while by contrast, in the south, it is customary to make a new year’s cake after dinner and send pieces of it as gifts to relatives and friends in the coming days of the New Year to wish them health and prosperity for the year ahead.

After the dinner, some families go to local temples, hours before the New Year begins, to pray for a prosperous year by lighting the first incense of the year. However, in modern practice, many households stage parties and even hold a countdown to the new lunar year, much as Western countries do for the coming of January 1.

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