Each year, festivities for the Chinese New Year lasts fifteen days, starting from New Year’s Day celebrations and culminating in the Lantern Festival.
While dragon dances and the use of fireworks are popularly associated with the celebration of Chinese New Year, the occasion is also marked by an abundance of another thing – food.
Food eaten on New Year’s Day is associated with traditions, and several dishes are considered lucky in this regard in Chinese culture.
In view of that, here are some dishes that are considered lucky for Chinese New Year.
Celebration of the Chinese New Year is incomplete without dumplings, and the Chinese believe that the more dumplings one eats on New Year’s Day, the more money they will make in the year.
While pork is the most common dumpling filling used for New Year’s Day celebrations, dumplings with fillings of chicken, shrimp, or vegetables are also widely eaten.
Fried spring rolls resemble golden bars and are believed to bring wealth and prosperity to those who eat spring rolls on Chinese New Year. These deep fried rolls can be made using a variety of fillings, including chicken, pork, and assorted vegetables.
Tray of Togetherness:
The Tray of Togetherness comes with six to eight sections that are filled with an assortment of small treats like dried fruits, nuts, and candy, and is a staple on New Year’s Day as it represents peace and family harmony.
Known as changshou mian (literally meaning ‘long-life noodles’), these noodles are almost often up to two feet in length. As per Chinese tradition, the longer the length of the noodle, the luckier the eater is, and it is a staple dish during Chinese New Year celebrations. However, you should be careful not to break a noodle while cooking as it is considered bad luck and represents a life cut short.
Eight Treasure Rice:
This traditional rice dish is made with sticky rice and eight ‘treasures’ as its name suggests, and includes an assortment of seeds, nuts, and fruits. Eight is considered to be a lucky number in Chinese culture and this dish also makes the cut for Chinese New Year celebrations.
Steamed fish is an emblematic dish for the Chinese New Year and is eaten on New Year’s Day as it is considered both auspicious and as a bringer of abundance. Traditionally, a little bit of the dish is left over after eating as a symbol of abundance.
Sweet rice balls:
The round shape of sweet rice balls symbolises ‘unity’ and represent family harmony. The name of the dish, tang yuan, also resembles tuan yuan, the word for reunion in Chinese.
Nian gao, also known as year cake in English, was initially offered during ritual ceremonies and is considered to be lucky for the Chinese New Year. If consumed on the first day of the year, it is believed to bring health, wealth, and happiness.
Another cake that is eaten on Chinese New Year, fa gao is a steamed rice flour cake, also known as a prosperity cake in English. The cake is made with a segmented top and Chinese tradition says that the more segments the top has, the luckier people eating it will be.
Oranges, tangerines, kumquats, and other similar citrus fruits are also eaten in Chinese New Year as they are believed to bring happiness and prosperity. In fact, the Chinese words for ‘orange’ and ‘tangerine’ closely resemble Chinese words for ‘luck’ and ‘wealth’ and its perhaps no surprise that these fruits are also staples of Chinese New Year celebrations.