7 Essential Items to Include in Your Mother’s Day Gift Basket

Mother’s Day only comes once a year so it’s important to make your Mom’s gift extra special. We make it easy by offering a selection of gifts that combine many of what we believe to be the key ingredients to a spectacular Mother’s Day gift basket. Here’s our list of the top 7 essential components to a perfect Mother’s Day gift basket.

#1. Flowers
Nothing says “Mother’s Day” like a beautiful bouquet of flowers in the hues of spring. Pastels are de rigueur: think baby pink, peachy yellow, pale orange, or dusty rose. For our Mother’s Day gifts this year, we selected three varieties of gorgeous pastel peach colored roses: Big Fun, a real performer with bi-color peach hues and a splash of pink inside the petals, and two types of garden roses: Old Peach Garden in the most delicate shade of cantaloupe, and Peach Campunulla, the same tone as Old Peach Garden but with ruffling on the petals. All grown for the purpose of making Mom smile with delight!

Mothers Day Gift Baskets_Instant Happy

#2. Chocolate
Moms expect to be indulged on Mother’s Day, so chocolates are always a key element to a Mother’s Day gift basket. So many decadent ways to make her feel that she is special!
Hand-made chocolates filled with exquisitely flavored cream ganaches, delicate salted caramel chocolates, and chocolate-dipped toffees. Our exquisite Jewel Box Bon Bons by “Stick With Me” are extra special for Mom because each delectable piece looks like a little gem! If you can’t buy her a real ruby or sapphire, these bon bons are an affordable and delicious alternative.

Jewel Box Bon Bons

#3. Tea & Scones
There is nothing like a gift of brewed tea and fresh scones to make a Mom feel cosseted. And that’s the point, isn’t it? Join her if you can and share a proper English afternoon tea on Mother’s Day. You can provide all the ingredients to prepare a beloved English tradition with our Proper Tea & Scones gift. Start with a most deliciously fragrant loose leaf tea blended with rose and lavender by Bellocq Tea in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This tea is aptly named “The Queen’s Guard”, to celebrate regal Moms across the country! To complement the flowery aromas and flavors of the tea, we chose apricot ginger pistachio scones made by our favorite local bakery, Sweetleaf, here in Long Island City. These generously sized scones are rich and buttery with a perfect balance of spicy and sweet. With a jar of delicate wildflower honey collected from the Catskill Mountains by Catskill Provisions, a lovely little antique brass tea strainer and tea filters, Mom will be ready to enjoy teatime.Proper Team & Scones for Mother's Day

#4. Cookies
Delicate and flaky cookies are another essential component to your Mother’s Day gift basket. Remind Mom that she is un-mistakenly the BEST with these hand-iced Best Mom cookies made by Duane Park Patisserie. The sweet trio spells out M-O-M in big letters that express your largesse. Include them in a gift basket of fresh fruit or with flowers and chocolate. These cookies speak the sentiment!

Best Mom Cookies

#5. Petit Fours
We can’t resist petit-fours for Mother’s Day gift baskets — they are so pretty and refined — and your Mom won’t be able to resist the charm of these little cakes either. Hand-layered and iced in a pastel Spring palette by the wizard bakers at Duane Park Patisserie. Gently arranged like flowers in a window box, these delectable treats will make your Mom feel as elegant as they look.

Petit Fours Mothers Day

#6. Chocolate Fondue
We’ve already cited chocolate as one of our top 7 essential items to include in your Mother’s Day gift basket, but hey, chocolate deserves to be mentioned twice! Chocolate comes in many forms, and fondue is a really fun and social way to enjoy the dark and creamy sweetness of chocolate. We could probably all agree that chocolate tastes great on just about anything — but especially yummy on fresh fruit and dried fruit, plain biscotti and crystallized ginger. Our chocolate fondue gifts are like a party in a basket! Surprise Mom on Mother’s Day by presenting her with a new way to enjoy chocolate!

Chocolate Fondue Gift Basket

#7. Something Personal
The last essential item to include in the perfect Mother’s Day gift basket is perhaps the most important. Put something of yourself in the gift. It can be as simple as a really personal note to your Mom. Open your heart and find the words to tell her how much she means to you the whole year through. Remind her of a memorable day you spent together in the past. Write about a time when she made you laugh or a time when she dried your tears. Or spend some time looking through old photographs and find a good one of the two of you to frame for her.

Mother’s Day is all about making your Mom feel spoiled, pampered, special, loved, appreciated, and indulged. Mother’s Day gift baskets should include ingredients that will make her feel just that way! Whatever you do for you Mom, be sure to make a fuss.

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5 Reasons Why Gift Baskets Make the Perfect Mother’s Day Present

How do you thank your mom for all that she does? How do you acknowledge all the love she has for you and show her all the love you have for her? Hopefully, you can find ways to show your appreciation the whole year through. But on Mother’s Day, we try to communicate all of those feelings in one perfect gift and on a single day. Not a simple task.

Traditionally, people send flowers to their mothers. This makes sense as Mother’s Day is during the springtime! There are many colorful and fragrant flowers to choose from that mark the beginning of the season such as hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, and lilacs. Roses are always suitable, especially in hues of pink, yellow, or orange. But how do you make it special? Be sure you send her favorite flowers. And add a heartfelt note that tells her how much she means to you.

Mothers Day Gift Basket

The best gift is always time with YOU. Taking Mom to a champagne brunch on this special day is a time-honored custom. Deliver your gift in person if you can. The point is to spend time with your mom. It will be memorable for her, and you’ll be happy you did!

We at Manhattan Fruitier are proponents of the Mother’s Day gift basket and are sharing the five reasons why we think this is the best gift idea for Mom this year:

#1. You can give Mom more of her favorite things

Sometimes it’s hard to decide what to give your mom for Mother’s Day. You know she likes daffodils and milk chocolate and green tea and Red Sox tickets. If you send a gourmet gift basket, you don’t have to choose because you can send them all! Nothing is more special than giving your mom her favorite things. It shows her how much you understand her. And the more of her favorite treats you can include, the more you can enhance her delight.

#2, You can give Mom a wide variety of goodies

Flowers, chocolate, and brunch at a nice restaurant may be traditional, but when you give a gift basket, you don’t need to be limited. In a Mother’s Day gift basket, you can include a variety of items – related or not related at all. The number and type of goodies only depends on your imagination (and the size of the gift basket).

You may want to include something sweet to eat, something for her to wear, something for her to read, something for her to use, something for her to do, something for her to look at, something for her to listen to on her special day.

Example gift basket idea: chocolate-covered strawberries, her favorite perfume, the latest best selling biography, a Starbucks gift card, a coupon for a massage, flowers, and a link to a new podcast. Indulge all of her senses!

#3. You can create the perfect gift around a theme just for Mom

Some Mother’s Day gift baskets work best when the items are all connected around a central theme. Maybe your mom has a garden she loves to tend. Consider getting a garden caddy and fill it with some new tools or new garden gloves or seeds for flowers or vegetables she likes.

Perhaps she loves short stories. You can go to your local bookstore and find the best new short story collections and a few of the classics. Different components in a gift basket round out the pleasure! Your Mom will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

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#4. You can make the gift more personal

Last year, my daughter gave me a purple Fjallraven Kanken mini knapsack for the gym and inside she put some pink and black weight-lifting gloves for me. I had mentioned that my gym bag was old and ripped and that the palms of my hands sometimes tingled while working with weights.

That unique Mother’s Day gift was obviously very specific to me and it made me feel special. We also went to brunch at our favorite local restaurant and spent the afternoon together so I got both the expected and the unexpected!! Personal gifts convey the time and effort that goes into them and show that you took the extra step.

#5. You can make your celebration of Mom last longer

Flowers wilt and brunches only last a few hours, but a gift basket filled with her favorite treats or some new items for her to try will make a lasting impression. It will take Mom a while to get through it all so she will remember your thoughtfulness and that will extend the sweet sentiment of Mother’s Day.

We hope your mom enjoys her unique Mother’s Day Gift. Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there!

Healthy Easter Basket Ideas for Adults

Easter baskets are traditionally for children, but there is no rule against finding fun Easter baskets ideas for adults! There are many ways to elevate the time-honored basket components such as marshmallow peeps, chocolate bunnies, and colorful eggs to delight an adult’s palate. Not to mention the many ways you can design an elegant basket to contain these goodies without using fake grass or hollow plastic eggs.

Artisanal bakers are always searching for ways to make conventional treats more remarkable by using natural, fresh, high-quality ingredients. Easter treats are no exception! Easter gift ideas for adults can be reminiscent of childhood and an earlier era, or they can be completely reimagined for healthy, organic and/or gluten free or vegan diets.

Old-Fashioned Easter Baskets Reimagined for Adults

Gourmet Easter Gift BoxIf you are of a certain age, and your parents celebrated Easter with the traditional Easter basket for children, you will remember the yellow-dyed marshmallow peeps, the large, machine-molded Easter Bunnies, and the reusable hollow plastic eggs of all colors, that when opened contained 3-4 flavors of jellybeans.

Usually the Easter basket was lined with tufts of curly bright green plastic strips to emulate grass upon which the chicks, bunnies, and eggs sat. The entire basket was wrapped in cellophane and then a big pink or yellow or green manufactured bow was attached to the top.

These baskets can still be found pre-made in grocery stores. Depending on the person, a funny idea for an adult is to just purchase one of these pre-made Easter baskets! Good for a laugh, but probably lacking in the taste department (and by taste I mean to convey both flavor and style).

Or you can replicate the traditional Easter basket, but with upgraded ingredients. You might even want to enhance your gift with fresh Spring fruit for a healthy addition.

How to Make Fun Easter Baskets for Adults
If you want to make your own conventional, but elevated, Easter baskets for adults, start with finding a nice willow or sea grass basket. If you are delivering your gift by hand, then the open-handle style is de rigueur as it allows all the delectable and colorful treats to be displayed in their full glory at a first glance.

If the weave is open a bit, you can buy some fresh flowers to decorate the outside for another fun Easter basket gift idea that will be especially appreciated by an adult. Look for a daisy such as the Gerbera, with their wildly hued large petals in bright yellow, pink, orange or red. They will work well if you are making the gift right before you deliver it.

Cut the flower off a few inches from the bloom. (Gerbera daisies usually have a plastic tube on the stem designed to help support the heavy head. You can cut the stem at the plastic.) Insert in between the weave until just the head of the flower shows on the outside. You may need to trim the stem on the inside. If you need to make your adult Easter basket ahead of time, try using heather sprigs or statice, both of which come in a variety of seasonal colors and still look great as they dry.

Next, think about lining your basket with real grass — why use plastic?! Wheat grass is a beautiful grass to use, and you can buy small trays of it at your local juice shop or natural food store. It is long, silky, and edible too! Wheat grass will create a lush pillow upon which you will nestle your ingredients.

If you don’t use flowers to decorate the outside of the basket, think about putting fresh flowers inside of the basket. Look for small plastic tubes with points at the end at your local flower shop to stick flower stems in. You can cut the flowers to any length, fill the tubes with cold water, carefully place the stems into the tubes and then stick them into the sod of the wheat grass.

You can use roses, tulips, daffodils, or any other spring flower. Sometimes, floral shops only carry tubes with rounded bottoms. If those are the only ones you can find, you can use them in the same way, but instead of sticking them into the sod, you can place them in pockets around your gift at the very end, once you have arranged all the other ingredients inside. Either way, flowers make a beautiful accent.

What Should You Put Inside Your Adult Easter Basket?

Chocolates
Now, what to put into the beautiful adult Easter basket you have now created? Chocolate is a good place to start. Today there are many highly regarded small-batch chocolate makers that craft their creations using only the highest quality cacao. This is chocolate an adult can appreciate. If you live near a local chocolate shop or sweet shop, stop in to see what they are offering for Easter, or go online to search. There are a variety of chocolate bunnies available that will please an adult palate and aesthetic.

Chocolate Easter Bunnies in SweatersFor example, we found this adorable Easter bunny trio (or trios lapins de Pacques) by Claudine Desnoyers of Le Comptoir Chocolat in Montreal Quebec. The rich, dark, creamy milk and sweet white chocolates are all organic and fair-trade with a smooth texture and luscious taste. What could be better than that?

When Claudine decided to dress her bunnies in woven “sweaters” (edible chocolate!) in an array of pastel colors, she brought the Easter bunny to entirely new heights. No adult could resist the charm of these one-of-a-kind Easter treats.

Peeps
The marshmallow “peep,” or yellow-dyed marshmallow chick, is an iconic Easter gift and it’s a great idea to include in any Easter basket for adults. Pastry chefs like to offer seasonal and occasion-specific treats and Easter is no exception. You can find peeps that are made with higher quality ingredients than the grocery store bought brands.

Using hGourmet Easter Peepsand-made marshmallow and real sugar in place of corn starch can make a peep actually taste really good as well as look adorable. We especially love these marshmallow Easter peeps made at Duane Park Patisserie.

Each peep is a unique creation because they are entirely handmade with distinctive body shapes, beaks and hand-dropped black eyes. It’s hard to resist these charming little chicks. (Having said that, I know a few adults who really like the old-school peeps, especially once they get a little stale!)

Easter Eggs
Hard boiling and then dying eggs continue to be a popular activity with families. The colors are so fun! Easter egg hunts are a well know past-time in preparing for the holiday. So another Easter gift idea that could still be fun for adults is to arrange an Easter egg hunt! You can do it in your own home, backyard, or make it a larger event. Be sure you remember how many eggs you hide and where you hid them… otherwise you’ll be smelling rotten eggs in a week or two.

For an adult Easter basket, there are many options for colorful eggs that are neither plastic nor real. Chocolate eggs can be painted in vivid colors, hand-sprinkled with sparkling spots, or even brushed with gold-leaf.

Chocolate Easter EggsA great example is the hand-painted chocolate Easter eggs filled with praline (a luscious almond and hazelnut paste) by Christophe Paume of Christophe Chocolatier in Charleston, South Carolina. Just look at the extraordinary glazes on these! They could be mistaken for collector’s items, but don’t wait to enjoy them — these chocolate eggs don’t have the chemical preservatives that make store bought brands “shelf-stable” for months and months on end.

Jelly Beans
Another customary Easter candy is the ubiquitous jelly bean! In years past, jelly beans came in red, black, yellow, and green — the green ones always got eaten last in my house — and they all tasted basically the same, with the exception of the black ones which were definitely more licoricey.

Today, however, jelly beans come in a myriad of colors and a nearly limitless variety of distinctive flavors such as root beer, popcorn, and watermelon. A peppering of modern day jelly beans is another good idea for designing your traditional Easter basket for an adult.

As you arrange your goodies in your adult Easter basket, think about taking the ingredients out of their wrappers. Maybe a little less sanitary, but if you are giving the gift right away, it really does make a better presentation without the cardboard and plastic. Immediately afterward, you can put the items into ziploc bags (if anything remains uneaten!).

Types of Easter Baskets for Adults

Healthy Easter Baskets
Eating healthier is a national trend that spans age groups. Parents are more concerned than ever about finding healthy alternatives for snacks and treats for their children, and adults are also paying closer attention to their diets and healthy lifestyles.

There are many ways to make healthy Easter baskets for kids or adults that are still fun and appealing. One of the best ways to start is to use fresh fruit as your base. You can shop your local produce market for your favorite fruits, but why not also explore some more exotic options?

Pomegranates are just ending their season now, but you may still find some good markets that carry them. These are especially fun fruits for kids to discover. Help them set up by the kitchen sink to open the pomegranate.

First, score the skin of the pomegranate with 4-5 cuts around the fruit and then pull the sections apart to reveal the deep dark ruby red seeds. Let your child experience the fun of plucking or scraping the seeds out of the pith while they crunch on the juicy niblets during the process.

Be sure to pull the pith entirely off the seeds before eating them (no harm, but the seeds may taste bitter). It takes work to build a pile of pomegranate seeds and it can get messy (pomegranate juice can squirt all around) but it is also fun.

Pomegranates are nutrition packed with vitamins and have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Other spring fruits that are a bit more unusual include Sumo Mandarins, blood oranges, Asian pears (also called Nashi), black mission figs, pink Muscat grapes, rambutans, pepino melons, miniature pineapples, and Tommy Atkins or Ataulfo mangos.

Organic Easter Baskets
More and more people are looking for organic alternatives of the foods they eat. Many fruits can be found in both conventional and organic varieties. In the exotic fruit realm, mangos, dates, kiwis, and blood oranges can be found organically grown.

Similarly, baked goods, chocolates, and candies can be found that are made with all organic ingredients. Your local health food store will likely have a good selection to choose from to construct your very own organic Easter basket.

One of our favorite organic chocolate bars is from Cacao Prieto, made in Red Hook, Brooklyn. We like the original 72% dark organic chocolate, but they offer a wild variety of flavored chocolate bars such as orchid, absinthe, and mandarin & bergamot, as well as more familiar combinations such as almond sea salt, and cashew and cranberry.
Organic Chocolate Bar

We also love the traditional organic Swedish cookies from Unna Bakery. These are delicate little handmade bites of chocolate and caramel, classic butter & almonds, ginger snaps and cardamom biscotti. And the little boxes are decorated sweetly too!

Swedish Cookies Unna Bakery

Gluten-Free Easter Basket

Fruit is naturally gluten-free so fresh fruit is always a great addition to a gluten-free Easter basket. You can still decorate with wheat grass, and flower accents. As more and more people move to a gluten-free diet, more and more gluten-free bake shops are opening. If you have one in your neighborhood, check to see what offering they have for Easter.

Alternatively, many grocery stores have gluten-free sections. Be sure to read the labels carefully. If you are sending a gift to a person who has Celiac Disease or is otherwise gluten-intolerant, you must be very careful to choose products that are certified gluten-free by one of the gluten-free certification organizations.

Some organizations certify gluten-free to only 5 parts per million (ppm), which is the safest, while others certify only up to 20 ppm.

Vegan Easter Baskets
If your Easter basket recipient — whether child or grown-up — is vegan, fresh fruit is a natural go-to and is readily recognizable as “animal product free”. Vegans are also generally very health-conscious people and fresh fruit fits the bill. But don’t forget to add some sweet treats to your vegan Easter basket.

Vegan cookies, cakes, chocolates and candies abound! And don’t mistake vegan for tasteless or textureless! Check out these amazing Choc-a-Bloc cookies made by Sweet Leaf Bakery of Long Island City made exclusively for us! Packed with coconut, chocolate chips, almonds, banana and peanut butter, these cookies would please any palate, vegan or not!

Vegan Choc-a-Bloc

Whether you are making an Easter basket for an adult or a child, you can make a very sweet small basket or a shockingly gigantic one! Both will have impact and appeal. And if you need to ship your Easter basket, you can modify your creation by using a lidded basket or other container and putting your flower accents inside rather than outside.

Leave your delicate treats in their original containers to protect them during the shipping and handling process. A shipped Easter basket for adults or children can also be a beautiful gift experience!

What to Bring to Passover Dinner

The Passover Seder is the traditional celebratory dinner where Jewish families and friends get together to eat, drink, and read the Passover story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. If you are invited to attend and are wondering what to bring to Passover dinner, rest assured that it’s always appropriate to bring a gift, or Passover offering. Food and wine gifts are especially fitting and will be much appreciated so long as you follow a few rules.

What is Kosher for Passover?

The most important stipulation is that the edible or potable gift you bring to a Passover meal be Kosher for Passover. Unless you keep a Kosher household and comply carefully with Kosher for Passover restrictions yourself, it is best not to try to make something at home and bring it to Passover dinner.

Food and drink consumed on Passover must be prepared in dishes and with utensils that have not been used to touch leavened foods (unless they have been rendered Kosher for Passover use). If your hosts aren’t sure how your gift was prepared, they won’t be able to eat or drink it.

So when deciding what to bring to your Passover celebration, opt for finding delicious pre-packaged food that is properly labeled and is in its original wrapping. The wrapping will confirm to your hosts that your gift has the proper certification and that it can be opened and enjoyed for the Seder.

To find the proper Kosher certification for Passover, look for the words, “Kosher for Passover” or a kosher certification that includes a “P” on packaged foods, including candy. There are dozens of symbols used for Kosher certification.

Perhaps the most recognizable symbol is the OU (that is, the letter U inside a circle representing the O). But a Kosher symbol alone is not enough. The Kosher rules are more stringent for Passover. So be sure you see “Kosher for Passover” printed clearly on the packaging, or the letter P next to the Kosher symbol.

What Do You Bring for Passover Dinner?

Here are some specific ideas when you don’t know what to bring to Passover.

Fresh Fruit
Fruit is one of few things that is naturally kosher. That’s great news because there’s an abundance of delightful Spring fruit in season during Passover week. A fresh fruit basket may be kosher while also being beautiful and healthy.

But remember, if you choose to bring or send a fresh fruit gift to a Passover celebration, there shouldn’t be any foods in the basket that aren’t labeled Kosher for Passover. The addition of any single non-kosher item makes the entire gift non-kosher!

Confections
Confections for Passover must be flourless. In strictly Kosher households, desserts must also be dairy-free. That is because most Seders include meat and people who keep Kosher cannot eat meat and dairy in the same day. So do be careful in your selections. If not sure, play it safe and bring a sweet treat to Passover that is flourless and dairy-free.

Passover Gift Basket

A perfect Kosher for Passover gift baskets with fresh fruit and delicious sweet treats!

Kosher, non-dairy Coconut Macaroons make a great Passover gift. When they’re well made with toasted coconut and then dipped in chocolate, they are a sure winner for all ages.

If you know that your hosts are not exacting about eating dairy with meat, you might consider a gift of a tin of kosher Almond Kisses made by Barton’s Confections. These Almond Kisses contain dairy and are made by pouring creamy chocolate caramel over roasted whole almonds. And you know how good almonds are for your health! Other classic Passover sweets include anything made with matzah. Look for matzah dipped in chocolate, caramel, toffee, or even matzah layer cakes!

If you add some of these delectable treats to a fresh fruit basket, then you’ve brought both dessert and a centerpiece to Passover dinner!

Kosher Wine
Kosher wine is a welcome gift to bring to Passover, especially if it’s high-quality wine. Everybody at the Passover Seder is obligated to drink four glasses of wine! That can add up to a lot of wine at larger Seder gatherings. Therefore, it makes sense why a wine gift would be greatly appreciated. Note that at the Passover Seder, it is customary to drink red wine.

The good news is that today there are many very good kosher wine options. Winemakers have moved beyond the super-sweet wines made from Concord grapes. There are hundreds of high-quality dry wines available from around the world.
One very good kosher wine is made by Hagafen out of Napa Valley. In particular, Hagafen Cellars makes an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a small production wine with a rich, spicy nose of bakers’ chocolate and black cherry. There’s also a hint of spice-filled black licorice, black cherry, plum, and cranberry on the palate.

Hagafen Kosher Wine Hagafen Kosher Wine Label

As with all of the gifts you bring to a Passover dinner you’ll want to be certain that your wine gift is kosher for Passover. On the Hagafen label above (right) you’ll see the OU symbol, which represents the Orthodox Union’s Kosher certification.

You also see the “P”, which signifies that the wine is kosher for Passover. And “Mev.” stands for “mevushal,” which means the wine has been flash pasteurized (before fermentation for white wines and just after fermentation for reds).

Mevushal is a standard stricter than kosher, which allows non-Sabbath-observant Jews (a waiter or sommelier) to pour the wine without it losing its standard of purity. If you have any questions about whether a wine is kosher for Passover, it’s probably best to ask the store you are purchasing it from.

Flowers
Flowers also make a great Passover offering because they are not subject to any kosher rules. Flower stands in the Springtime are always bursting with colorful blooms that bring the promise of sunshine and warmer weather and are guaranteed to put a smile on your face! Any host would greatly appreciate you bringing a bouquet of flowers to the Passover dinner.

Not every Passover celebration is going to adhere rigorously to the Kosher for Passover rules. Some Jewish people are very liberal and many do not even keep Kosher. However, at Passover, which is such an important celebration for Jewish people, many become more traditional. If you don’t know the people very well, and you need to know what to bring to a Passover meal, it is always best to bring gifts of food and wine that are Kosher for Passover.

Lunar New Year Filled with Roosters and Dragons – both Edible and Legendary

Chinese New Year Gift Basket from Manhattan Fruitier

Lunar New Year Gift Basket from Manhattan Fruitier

This Chinese New Year, the year of the Fire Rooster, begins on January 28. During the two-week celebration of the New Year, family and friends gather for feasting and to honor household and heavenly deities. It is one of the grandest, most celebratory annual events throughout the world.

Originating in the ancient Shang Dynasty (17 to 11 BC), this lively holiday was a way to ward off the legendary monster “Nian,” who loved to feast on little children and farm animals. Along with his appetite, Nian had some peculiar hang ups. He detested the color red and abhorred loud noise. So people decorated their houses in brilliant reds and set off fire crackers in the streets to send Nian away for another year.

Even though China adopted the Western calendar and January 1st as an official New Year date, the Lunar New Year is still of the utmost cultural and historical importance. Chinese continue to celebrate the traditions and customs of Lunar New Year, albeit now with a shorter new name – the Spring Festival.

During the Spring Festival, mandarin oranges, tangerines, pomelos and all types of citrus are gifted as tokens of good fortune, happiness and abundance. These fruits are displayed on kitchen tables throughout the two week celebration as a harbinger of a healthy, hopeful and prosperous New Year to come. Another highly-prized celebratory fruit during the Spring Festival is the Dragon Fruit or Pitahaya. Wildly popular for its brilliant fuschia-pink coloring – some believe the color of luck – Dragon Fruit is often placed on altars for the Lunar New Year.

Dragon Fruit or Pitahaya

Dragon Fruit or Pitahaya

Dragon fruit, or pitahaya, is actually a vine-like cactus that originated in the Americas but became almost exclusively popular in East and Southeast Asia over many years. It’s a fruit both moody and mysterious. The pitahaya’s aromatic flowers bloom one night only, on the full moon, and can only grow by nocturnal pollinators that bring this magical fruit to fruition.

The white flesh of the Dragon Fruit is soft like a ripe peach and is easily eaten with a spoon once you cut the fruit in half. It has tiny black seeds that are easy to eat. The flesh is slightly sweet with a touch of lemon flavor. Delicious as well as exotically colored, it will ward off the monster Nian until at least 2018.

New York City Chinatown Parade

New York City Chinatown Parade

This 2017 Lunar New Year Spring Festival begins on January 28th . If you happen to be in New York City, check out the New Year’s Day Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival, kicking off at Chinatown’s Sara Roosevelt Park.  Usher out the New Year celebrations on February 5th with a bang and clang two weeks later at the dazzling Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown.

Happy Lunar New Year to you all!