Lucky Foods to Eat During Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is probably the biggest of all Chinese festivals. This festival is not only about playing catch up or visiting relatives, but most of it is about tradition and food is definitely part of it. The Chinese customs and traditions dictate that certain dishes must be eaten by everyone during the festival.

The Lunar New Year 2019 is celebrated on February 5th, 2019, and foods ranging from tangerines to whole fish are eaten to symbolize health, long life, luck and wealth. If you’re superstitious, this is the best place to collect your luck. Starting the New Year deliciously is also not a bad idea for non-believers.

Apart from the dishes themselves, the mode of preparation, eating and serving also matter a lot. Also, a lively spirit, full of laughter and banter should be expressed during the festival. Keep reading if you’re wondering which symbolic foods to eat during this Year of the Pig:

1. Fish or 'Yu/yoo’ (Wealth and prosperity)

In Chinese, fish is considered a traditional New Year dish. Fish pronunciation in Chinese sounds like 'excess’, 'abundance’ or 'surplus’. Therefore, eating fish during this festival symbolizes more wealth in the following year. Using a crispy batter, the fish is normally steamed, boiled or deep fried.

 However, the fish is to be left with the leftovers as this symbolizes there being abundance every year. In some Chinese areas, the head and the tail aren't eaten until the year begins to express belief that they will begin and end the year with surplus. The fish is eaten with vinegar sauce or spicy broth.

2. Tangerines (Longevity and Wealth)

Tangerines are also known as Mandarin Oranges and are ever present during the Chinese New Year Festival. The words 'orange’ and 'tangerine’ sounds like 'luck’ in Chinese. Displaying and exchanging bright oranges means good fortune and are exchanged in pairs in every household visit.

 Also, the bitter leaves of tangerines are associated with longevity. However, don’t group them in fours because the number 4 sounds like 'death’. Always remember to get your different pair to return since the host would also like to receive this gift of long life and wealth as well.

3. Longevity Noodles (Log Life)

Longevity noodles are a common dish during this important Chinese celebratory occasion. They symbolize wish for a happy and long life. Longevity noodles are usually prepared and served uncut.

 They are usually longer than the normal noodles and the longer, the better. Bee Hoon or Vermicelli is the most popular during this festival and is normally served fried with green vegetables and other seafood.

4. Spring rolls (Wealth and prosperity)

Spring rolls as their name suggest are popular traditional dish during the spring festival. In East China: Shanghai, Fujian, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Jiangxi, Shenzhen, etc. the dish is extremely popular. This Cantonese dim sum food are made in cylindrical-shaped rolls

 The rolls are filled with meat, vegetables or anything sweet wrapped in a thin dough wrappers. It is then fried which gives them the golden-yellow color. Because spring rolls resemble gold bars when fried, it is therefore believed to be a symbol for prosperity.

5. Chinese dumplings (Wealth and prosperity)

Eating dumplings during the festival represent a felicitous belief for amassing a fortune. This classic Chinese traditional dish is very popular in China, and almost all Chinese can make dumplings. It’s believed that the more you eat it during the festival, the more fortune you will amass in the New Year.

 Finely chopped vegetables are mixed with minced meat. They are then wrapped in an elastic dough skin which can be fried, baked, steamed or boiled. The Chinese believe that eating dumplings stuffed with cabbage and radish will result to fairer skin and gentle mood.

6. Chinese black moss (Wealth and Prosperity)

Also known as fatt choy, this hair-like fungus is a must-have on the table during the Chinese New Year’s Eve celebrations. Its name pronunciation sounds like 'prosperity’. The fatt choy is usually served with dried oystersand vegetables. It’s known as Fatt Choy Ho See when prepared with dried oysters.

Although it looks scary, fatt choy is very nutritious, full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

7. Sweet rice balls (Family Togetherness and Harmony)

 Sweet rice ball is one of the main symbolic foods eaten during the Chinese New Year festival. It is said that eating sweet rice balls in a round group is a symbol of a happy reunion.

The South Chinese people eat them during the entire spring festival. It is pronounced as 'tangyuan’ which is associated with togetherness. Furthermore, the round shape of the sweet rice ball is associated with reunion and togetherness.

8. Chicken (Unity and good marriage)

Chicken is an extremely popular food all over the word. However, the Chinese believe that eating chicken during the Chinese New Year celebration will bring unity between families. The bird is usually fully served from head to feet.

The bird is prepared by stuffing it with ginger and fresh cilantro before steaming. It’s served with soy-ginger sauce, Chinese mustard and a sesame-cilantro sauce.

9. Glutinous rice cake (Wealth and higher position)

Eating this traditional Chinese New Year dish during the festival is associated with getting higher after every year. This could mean; business growth, better grades in school, height of children or getting promotions at work.

 Glutinous rice cake is pronounced as 'Niangao or Nyengaoww’ in Chinese which sounds like 'getting higher year-on-by year’. Niangao is prepared by mixing sticky rice, lotus leaves, chestnuts, sugar and Chinese dates.

10. New Year Radish Cake (Good fortune)

While Koreans eat rice cake during the Lunar New Year celebrations, in Taiwan people eat radish cake. The people who speak Hoklo language in Taiwan pronounce radish and good fortune the same. The words have different meanings but sound the same.

This cake is made by thinly cutting and frying pieces of fatty meat, radish, dried mushrooms, rice flour and shrimp to make a savory snack.

 There you have it! Simply prepare these yummy Chinese New Year dishes that will leave your friends and family with unimaginable memories. Happy New Year!!

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