Yesterday was the seventh day of Chinese New Year. The seventh day is also known as “yan yat” in Cantonese (literally translates to “human day“) or “ren qi” in Mandarin.
It is supposed to be everyone’s birthday today, so everyone grows one year older on this day. For example, if you are turning 30 years old this year, you will add one year to your age and be 31 years old in Chinese calendar. If you are someone who does not want to grow older, then you might not like this. It is after all, just a believe for the Chinese.
It is believed that humans were created on this seventh day of the Chinese calendar. Humans were supposedly moulded out of clay. The creator of the world according to Chinese legend, is a Goddess called “Nuwa”. She created some animals before She created human on the seventh day.
On the first day of the Chinese calendar, She supposedly created chicken. What a coincidence that it is the Year of Rooster this year. On the second day of Chinese calendar, she created dog. Then she created boar on the third day, sheep on the fourth, cow on the fifth and horse on the sixth day of the Chinese calendar. That brings us to the seventh day and human beings were believed to have been formed on this day. This is why this day is known as everyone’s birthday.
“Yan yat” is also celebrated as the birthday of fire as well. Another coincidence that is the Year of the Fire Rooster this year, so the first day of Chinese New Year this year would have been a significant day to commemorate the ‘fire’ and the creation of ‘chicken’. It is also believed that if the weather is good on the seventh day of Chinese New Year, it will be a peaceful and prosperous year ahead. The weather was great in Penang island, Malaysia yesterday, so we look forward to a peaceful and prosperous year ahead.
On yan yat, a special soup with seven vegetables are made. Another type of meal eaten for this special day would be the seven vegetables congee or the ‘jidi’ congee, which is basically Cantonese porridge with pork. In Malaysia and Singapore, we have the special seven coloured raw fish dish called “yee sang” to take over the seven vegetables soup or seven vegetables congee.
“Yee Sang” which is a dish consisting of finely shredded vegetables garnished with sweet and sour sauce with oil and sometimes smashed peanuts are added, then slices of raw fish (usually salmon) is added to the dish. This dish is then tossed using chopsticks by those gathered around the dish while good wishes are said aloud. The higher the toss signifies the higher the growth of the tosser’s wealth, so those tossing usually lift their chopsticks as high as possible. “Yee Sang” literally means “raw fish” but in Chinese, it can also mean increase in abundance and is also called “lou sang” or “lou hei” in Cantonese.
Wishing everyone a happy birthday, cheers to the creation of human beings and to be thankful that we are still alive. It is the eighth day of Chinese New Year today, so enjoy the rest of the seven days of Chinese New Year before Chap Goh Meh (fifteenth day of Chinese New Year) arrives.