Chinese Dragon cookies are popular Malaysian Chinese New Year cookies that are very similar to the much loved Chinese butter cookies. These cookies are piped into S-shape using an open star piping nozzle and piping bag with 2 dots of red colouring added as eyes. The Malays in Malaysia also have their own version of this type of buttery cookies called caterpillar cookies, made with the same ingredients and piped into elongated shape. Traditional ingredients for dragon cookies are corn starch, milk powder, egg yolk, vanilla extract and icing sugar. Giving them a delicious buttery, milky and melt-in-your mouth texture. They are essentially butter cookies and indeed very similar to the classic Danish butter cookies. Customarily, Chinese New Year cookies good gestures either served at home to visitors or gifted to friends and family.
For my Chinese dragon cookies gluten free recipe, I am using corn starch, gluten free all-purpose flour, potato starch, xanthan gum, stevia, vegan butter, eggs, agave syrup, rice milk, salt and vanilla extract. This dragon cookies recipe is not only gluten free but also vegetarian, dairy free, soy free, nut free, low carbs and refined sugar free. The eggs give these delicious buttery cookies a crunchy and melt-in-your mouth texture. I have tried many different vegan egg substitutes for this recipe and the cookies turned out too hard and chewy. You may like to try some of my vegan and gluten free Chinese New Year cookies recipes like Peanuts Cookies, Cashew Nuts Cookies, Walnut Cookies, Paleo Almond Cookies, Daisy Custard Butter Cookies and Cacao Dahlia butter Cookies.
Chinese New Year Brief Facts
Chinese New Year, often referred to as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, is the most momentous traditional Chinese festival celebrating the first day of Spring as well as the start of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The history of Chinese New Year festival dated all the way back to around 3,500 years ago, during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC). The festival has evolved from sacrificial rituals as a mark of respect to gods and ancestors at the commencement or the conclusion of each year, to one of celebrations, entertainments and social activities instead of just religious occasions.
Similarly, Chinese New Year festival is filled with stories and myths. There is a popular legendary belief that a mythical beast called “Nian” will consume cattle, harvests and even humans especially small children on New Year’s Eve. Many food items are left outside of home doors to prevent “Nian” from racking havoc. Then an old wise man presumed that “Nian” is afraid of loud noises from firecrackers and the colour red. Hence, the traditions of lighting firecrackers plus displaying red lanterns and red scrolls on doors and windows outside homes are common practices to frighten the “Nian” away.
Chinese New Year Customs
Some customs of Chinese New Year include: Spring cleaning of the house before Chinese New Year; shopping for new clothing before Chinese New Year, preferably red or bright colours; sending of greeting cards or messages to friends and relatives before and during Chinese New Year; attending Chinese New Year Eve reunion dinner for the whole family; giving of red packets or envelopes to children and unmarried adults; wearing of new red or colourful clothing; visit family and friends bearing gifts; consumption of festive feasts that are delicious, with pretty presentations of the dishes and auspicious connotations.
Festive feasts for Chinese New Year include: eating of dumplings for wealth in the new year, a custom mainly in Northern China (some of my dumplings recipes are Gluten Free Potstickers and Beef and Leek dumplings plus my wonton recipes Homemade Wonton Wrappers and Pork and Prawns Wonton Soup); and consuming Glutinous Rice Balls, “Tang Yuan” in Chinese, which are a traditional food for the Southern Chinese. These balls are made of glutinous rice flour with different fillings added. Their circular shape signifies reunion, harmony and joy. A whole fish is also essential as it represents surplus and good fortune for the New Year. In addition , noodles represent longevity and happiness and should be served long and uncut. You can find all my gluten free Asian noodles recipes here.
Dragon and Lion Dances Celebrations
Dragon and lion dances are common entertainments to bring good luck and good fortune and to ward off any bad luck and evil spirits and to bring happiness for the new year. In Chinese culture, the dragon is one of the luckiest signs in the Chinese zodiac, it symbolises wisdom, power and wealth that brings good luck and prosperity. It is alleged that the lengthier the dragon, the more good luck and good fortune it will bring. So, some dragons may stretch 100 feet or even longer. While lion represents wisdom, power and superiority even though it is not one of the zodiac signs.
Dragon and lion dances are customarily complemented by loud beating drums, with the dancers mimicking snake like dragon movements and lion movements, while at the same time showing off their martial arts dexterity. And the setting off of firecrackers during the dance ceremonies to ward off evil spirits is also common practice.
Chinese Calendar Zodiac Years
There are 12 zodiac signs in the traditional Chinese Calendar, namely Year of the Rat (2020); Ox (2021); Tiger (2022); Rabbit (2023); Dragon (2024); Snake (2025); Horse (2026); Goat (2027); Monkey (2028); Rooster (2029); Dog (2030); Pig (2031). This year 2021 is the Year of the Ox and oxen are hardworking, honest and sincere. They also like to keep a low profile and obtain respect and credit through their hard work. Oxen are typically recognised for their power, tenacity, meticulousness and reliability. In addition, they are calm, rational thinkers and are great leaders as a result.
Wishing you all Happy Chinese New Year of the Ox 2021 !!!