8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity

8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity

8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity

Check out these 8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity to eat during the festivities! Lucky Foods are certain dishes are eaten for their symbolism during Chinese New Year. The 16-day festival which starts on Chinese New Year’s Eve is believed to bring good fortune for the coming year.

The auspicious symbolism of these ingredients and foods is based on their appearance or pronunciations. The preparations, serving, and eating of the lucky foods plays an important role in Chinese households. Most Chinese families will stock up on fish, prawns, dumplings, spring rolls, pineapple tarts and Nian Gao.

#1 Steamed Fish Dish — an Increase in Prosperity

“Fish” (鱼 Yú /yoo/) sounds like ‘surplus’ in Chinese. The Chinese are a hard-working thrifty people and like to have a surplus at the end of the year. They like to know that have managed to save money at the end of the year. When they do, then they can make more in the next year.

How a Fish Is Eaten Matters a Lot

The fish dish is often served last before the rice dishes in most Chinese banquet dinners at restaurants. Even at home, it should be the last dish served with a little left over. This has an auspicious homophonic for there being surpluses every year.

These customs are observed in a lively and light-hearted spirit, full of laughing and banter.

Cooking the Fish

Fish can be cooked in various ways with steaming as the favorite to taste the fresh sweetness of the flesh. In restaurants and at home a favorite cooking method is steamed fish in soy sauce with pickled cabbage and chili.

8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity_Steamed Fish Dish
CHINESE NEW YEAR greeting “Nian Nian You Yu” is an auspicious greeting meaning abundant Year By Year. This greeting means Abundance with the same pronunciation “Yu” which is Fish but in a different Chinese character. Fish is used to represent abundance to the Chinese.

#2 Chinese Dumplings — Wealth

In North China, dumplings (饺子 Jiǎozi /jyaoww-dzrr/) are a traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve. The Chinese dumplings are formed to look like boat-shaped, oval Chinese silver ingots.

Dumplings have minced meat and finely-chopped vegetables filling wrapped in a thin dough wrappers skin. Popular fillings are minced pork, or beef, ground chicken, fish, diced shrimp, and vegetables. They are boiled, steamed, fried or even baked.

It is believed that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations, the more money you can make in the coming year.

8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity_Chinese Dumplings
The Chinese dumplings are formed to look like boat-shaped, oval Chinese silver ingots.

#3 Spring Rolls — Wealth

Traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival, Spring rolls (春卷 Chūnjuǎn /chwnn- jwen/) is a dish popular in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. In Penang, the version is called Choon Pneah.

These are cylindrical-shaped rolls filled with vegetables, meat and even sweet fillings wrapped in thin dough wrappers. This popular Cantonese dim sum dish is served deep fried to a golden-yellow color.

8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity_Spring Rolls
In Penang, the version is called Choon Pneah.

#4 Glutinous Rice Cake — a Higher Income or Position

Steamed glutinous rice cake (年糕 Niángāo /nyen-gaoww/) is chewy, sweet and a delicacy made only during Chinese New Year. The name Niángāo sounds like “‘getting higher year-on- by year”‘. To the Chinese people, getting higher means prosperity and improved stature in life.
The main ingredients of Nian Gao are sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, Chinese dates, and lotus leaves.

8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity_Glutinous Rice Cake
Traditional steamed glutinous rice cake is made with banana leaf-lined containers. Photo: Doris Lim

# 5 Sweet Rice Balls — Family Togetherness

During Winter Solstice, Sweet rice ball (汤圆 Tāngyuán /tung-ywen/) is eaten. The pronunciation and round shape of Tāngyuán are associated with the family reunion and coming together.

8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity_Longan Dessert
Sweet rice ball with dried longan dessert. Photo: Doris Lim

# 6 Longevity Noodles — Happiness and Longevity

The length of the longer than normal noodles are cooked uncut and served. It is symbolic of the eater’s wish for longevity. Longevity noodles (长寿面 Chángshòu Miàn /chung-show myen/) can be fried or boiled. Lucky foods can be noodles which may be served on a plate or in a bowl with a broth.

8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity_Longevity Noodles
Noodles in soup.

# 7 Good Fortune Fruit — Fullness and Wealth

Mandarin Oranges, Tangerines and Pomelos are favored for their round shape and “golden” color. These lucky foods or fruits are eaten during the Chinese New Year period. These symbolize fullness and wealth. Eating and displaying Mandrian Oranges, Tangerines and Pomelos are believed to bring good luck and fortune. The pronunciation and even writing sound like gold and success.
The Chinese for orange (and tangerine) is 橙 (chéng /chnng/), which sounds like ‘success’ (成). The writing Tangerine (桔 jú /jyoo) contains the Chinese character for luck (吉 jí /jee). The Chinese word for pomelo (柚 yòu /yo) sounds like ‘to have’ (有 yǒu).

8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity_Mandrian Oranges
Lucky Mandrian Oranges are given as gifts and eaten during Chinese New Year.

#8 Prosperity Toss Yee Sang

The 7th day of Chinese New Year is known asMankind’s birthday“. The celebration dish “Yee Sang“, is a traditional dish of raw fish, shredded vegetables, lime, pickled ginger and various fried crunchies. The salad is mixed, tossed and shared by family, a group of friends or even colleagues. This gathering is symbolism of togetherness. The group will mix and toss the ingredients with chopsticks amidst shouts of “Loh Hei”. The higher the ingredients are tossed, the greater the prosperity they will enjoy throughout the year.

8 Chinese New Year Lucky Foods Symbolism For Prosperity_Yee Sang Dinner Chinese New Year Lucky Foods
Yee Sang is eaten on the 7th Day of Chinese New Year. Photo: Doris Lim

SmartDory wishes all everyone a
Mandarin: 新年快乐 (Xīn Nián Kuài Lè)
Hokkien: Keong Hee Huat Chye
Cantonese: San Nin Fai Lok

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