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In most of Asia especially China Korea and Vietnam the New Year begins with the first full moon of the first Chinese lunar month Special foods are eaten in each region In China foods are prepared ahead using a knife during New Years might cut luck and include dishes with names that sound auspicious such as tangerines good fortune fish surplus and chestnuts profit Meats fried dishes such as fried rice dumplings and alcoholic beverages which are all considered yang or strong foods are also common In Korea soup containing small glutinous rice cakes or steamed dumplings are a must In Vietnam bahn chung a glutinous rice cake filled with meat and beans cooked in banana leaves is a New Years specialty Pork with lotus root and shark fin soup are also favored Small mandarin trees in full fruit are purchased for each home as a sign of hospitality One tradition practiced in both China and Vietnam has to do with the annual report on the familys past activities to the gods who then determine the following years fortune In Chinese culture an offering is made a week before the New Year to the picture of the Chinese Kitchen God hung in most homes The food is usually sweet and sticky so that when the God departs to Heaven to make his report he will only say favorable things in some regions the lips in the picture are actually smeared with honey or malt In Vietnam it is Ong Tao Spirit of the Hearth he is represented by 3 small stones and honored at his altar with a sweet soy bean soup and sweet rice cakes The beginning of the New Year is celebrated by many cultures on January 1st Some celebrations such as in the US take place on the evening before the new year featuring drinking sweets and general frivolity In Spain and Portugal it is customary to eat twelve grapes or raisins
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