February 5th marks the beginning of Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. This is the most important holiday in China celebrated with 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. Celebrate Chinese New Year and the Year of the Pig 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 their 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 that the more dumplings you eat during 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 during the two-week New Year celebration. The Chinese word for ‘orange’ sounds the same as the Chinese word for ‘success’. Plus, one method of writing ‘tangerine’ contains the Chinese character for ‘luck.’
Nian Gao for Success
Also known as “rice cake” or “New Year cake,” nian gao were used in ancient times only 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.
Noodles for Longevity and Happiness
Noodles represent the hope for a long life. Chinese chefs do not break noodles in half when cooking, as a noodle’s length is symbolic of the length and quality of a person’s life. Try this recipe for your Chinese New Year celebration; it is sure to become a family favorite!