February 10, 2024 marks the beginning of Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. As the most important holiday in China, the two-week long celebration involves dragon dances, festivals, and family gatherings where “lucky” foods are enjoyed together. The auspicious symbolism of these foods is based on their pronunciation or appearance. Usher in the Year of the Wood Dragon by feasting on some of these lucky foods.
Fish for Prosperity
In Chinese, the word for ‘fish’ sounds like ‘surplus.’ It is believed that having a surplus at the end of the year ensures one can achieve more wealth in the new year. Serving a whole fish during New Year celebrations is meant to bring abundance from the beginning of the year to the tail end.
Dumplings and Spring Rolls for Wealth
The shape of Chinese dumplings resembles ancient currency—ingots—while the shape of the spring roll resembles gold bars. For Chinese New Year, dumplings and spring rolls are filled with ingredients like cabbage, radish, and/or minced meat. The Chinese avoid eating sauerkraut because it implies a poor and difficult future.
Legend has it—the more dumplings you eat during Chinese New Year celebrations, the more money you will make in the new year.
Good Fortune Fruit
Oranges, tangerines, pomelos, and kumquats hold special significance relating to abundance, happiness, good luck, prosperity, and family unity. These fruits are eaten, displayed in the home, and given as gifts throughout the Lunar New Year celebration. The Chinese words for ‘orange’ and ‘success’ sound the same. Plus, one method of writing ‘tangerine’ contains the Chinese character for ‘luck’.
Nian Gao Cakes for Success
Also known as “rice cakes” or “New Year cakes,” nian gao were used in ancient times as offerings to the ancestors and gods. Over time, they came to be served during the Spring Festival as a wish to be successful. These delicious cakes come with the hope that every year will be better than the last.
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