5 traditional meals to make during Chinese New Year

From fish to long noodles: 5 lucky foods you must eat for the Chinese New Year

Eating "lucky foods" for the Chinese New Year is the way to bring good fortune, prosperity and health. At any Chinese New Year gathering, having the following five lucky foods is a culinary tradition.

5 traditional meals to make during Chinese New Year

1. Whole fish

If there's one food that's an absolute must for Chinese New Year, it's fish. A symbol of prosperity the word for fish in Mandarin Chinese, yu, is similar in sound to the word for surplus or abundance.

  • Chinese New Year is all about wishes for prosperity.
  • It's crucial that the fish be cooked as a whole fish, as this represents a complete and a healthy beginning.

2. Mandarin oranges and tangerines

Bright and radiant, tangerines and oranges enliven the mood at a Chinese New Year gathering. These fruits serve a decorative purpose, as well as being a symbol of good fortune and success.

  • The word for luck in Chinese, ji,  has a similar sound to tangerine, while the word for success, cheng, sounds like orange.
  • Adding green leaves into this fruit basket represents health and longevity.

3. Niangao (glutinous rice cakes)

The word for glutinous rice cakes in Chinese is made up of two characters: nian and gao.

  • Nian means year and gao means cake, but also sounds like the Chinese word for high.
  • Therefore, eating these rice cakes during the Chinese New Year symbolizes that things are getting better with each year.
  • And the aromatic smell of sugar, Chinese dates, sticky rice and chestnuts is very pleasant.

4. Dumplings

To make dumplings, pork and veggies are diced and then rolled up within dough.

  • Families often do this together after midnight strikes for the new year.
  • A common food across China, especially North China, dumplings, or jiaozi, carry great meaning during the Chinese New Year, as they are shaped like an ancient Chinese ingot currency called Yuanbao.
  • Thus, eating them during the Lunar New Year is said to bring wealth.

5. Long noodles

Noodles are another commonly consumed food in China that also makes its way onto dining tables during the Lunar New Year.

  • It's vital that you don't cut the noodles. The noodles must be long, as this is meant to symbolize long life.
  • Thus, at Chinese New Year celebrations, the purpose of eating long noodles is for longevity.

Chinese New Year is full of symbols of longevity, prosperity, good health and good fortune. Food is one of the main symbols of these wishes. So as you prepare the table for this important celebration, have these lucky foods there, it might make the year much better.

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