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!
Malaysians eat individual dishes for their symbolism during the Chinese New Year.
The 16-day festival, which starts on Chinese New Year’s Eve, believed to bring good fortune for the coming year.
Chinese New Year Lucky Foods
We base the auspicious symbolism of these ingredients and foods on their appearance or pronunciations.
The preparations, serving, and eating of lucky foods play an essential role in Chinese households in Malaysia.
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 hard-working, thrifty people and like to have a surplus at the end of the year.
They like to know that they have saved money at the end of the year.
When they do, they can make more in the next year by working and being thrifty.
Chinese serve the fish as the last dish before the rice.
They often serve the fish dish last before the rice dishes in most Chinese banquet dinners at restaurants.
Even at home, it should be the last dish served with a leftover.
This has an auspicious homophonic for there be surpluses every year.
We observe these customs in a lively and light-hearted spirit, full of laughing and banter.
How to cook the fish?
We can cook fish in various ways, with steaming as the favourite to taste the flesh’s fresh sweetness.
In restaurants and at home, a favourite cooking method is steamed fish in soy sauce with pickled cabbage and chilli.
#2 Chinese Dumplings — Wealth
In North China, dumplings (饺子 Jiǎozi /jyaoww-dzrr/) is a traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve.
They form the Chinese dumplings to look like boat-shaped, oval Chinese silver ingots.
Dumplings have minced meat and finely chopped vegetables filling wrapped with a thin dough wrapper skin.
The Chinese will mince popular fillings pork or beef, ground chicken, fish, diced shrimp, and vegetables.
The dumplings are eaten boiled, steamed, fried, or oven-baked.
Chinese believe that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations, the more money you can make in the coming year.
#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.
They serve a popular Cantonese dim sum dish deep-fried to a golden-yellow colour.
#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.
While we can eat it all year round, traditionally, it is most popular during the Chinese New Year.
Chinese rice cakes, or Nian Gao, are made from pounded rice and have a sticky, chewy texture.
Battered and deep-fried glutinous rice cakes make an excellent snack.
Easily found in Penang street stalls, battered, deep-fried Nian Gao sandwiched between sweet potato and taro is a treat to have together with a cup of coffee.
# 5 Sweet Rice Balls — Family Togetherness
During Winter Solstice, a Sweet rice ball (汤圆 Tāngyuán /tung-ywen/) is eaten.
We associate the pronunciation and round shape of Tāngyuán with a family reunion and coming together.
Other than the Chap Goh Meh Celebrations or Lantern Festival, many Malaysians have a tradition of eating Tāngyuán on New Year Eve, which signifies the entire family’s reunion.
# 6 Longevity Noodles — Happiness and Longevity
Longevity Noodles or “Long Life Noodles” are longer than typical noodles.
These 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/) are fried or boiled.
Lucky foods can be noodles that are served on a plate or in a bowl with a broth.
Auspicious “Long Life Noodles” are a traditional Chinese dish of egg wheat noodles that are often served at birthdays and celebrations like Chinese New Year.
# 7 Good Fortune Fruit — Fullness and Wealth
Mandarin Oranges, Tangerines, and Pomelos are famous for their round shape and “golden” colour.
We eat these lucky foods or fruits during the Chinese New Year period.
These symbolize fullness and wealth.
Eating and displaying Mandarin Orange, 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 Prosperity Toss Yee Sang
We know the 7th day of the Chinese New Year as “Mankind’s birthday.”
“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 a family, an “of friends or even colleagues.
This gathering is a symbolism of togetherness.
The group will mix and toss the ingredients with chopsticks amidst shouts of “Loh Hei”.
When we toss, the higher, the greater the prosperity they will enjoy throughout the year.
Is there any special food that you cook for your family to usher in Luck for the New Year?
Smart Dory wishes everyone.
Mandarin: 新年快乐 (Xīn Nián Kuài Lè)
Hokkien: Keong Hee Huat Chye
Cantonese: San Nin Fai Lok