Auspicious Chinese New Year Must-Eat
During Chinese New Year, there is nothing better than reuniting with your family, preparing a delicious feast and enjoying all the flavours of happiness. In fact, the delicacies enjoyed during the festive period have auspicious symbolism and significance. If you want to have “good fortune” do not miss these auspicious must-eats! The following auspicious delicacies all symbolise different “wishes of good fortune”. Don’t you just want to quickly savour all of them?
Nian gao are a must-have during Chinese New Year. Nian gao is made of ground glutinous rice which is then steamed over high heat, so it bears the meaning of “booming prosperity”. In addition, the pronunciation for nian gao (年糕) is also similar to “nian gao (年高)”, which means “rising high”. Therefore, whether adult or children, eating nian gao will bring prosperity in career and business, promotions and increase of income, as well as academic advancement in the coming year.
Fa Gao (Prosperity Cake)
Fa gao is a homonym for “fa cai”; hence, eating fa gao symbolises “prosperous fortune”. Additionally, the bigger the fa gao and the more fissures it has, the better the symbolism – signifying great wealth and good fortune.
There are many must-eat seasonal fruits for the Lunar New Year, such as mandarin oranges, limes and pomelos. The Chinese words for mandarin orange and lucky are homonyms and the fruit’s golden hue has the significance of abundance and wealth. Hence, eating mandarin oranges symbolises good luck and fortune in the new year.
Jiao Zi (Chinese Dumplings)
In Chinese tradition, it is customary to eat jiao zi during the Lunar New Year. The more you have, the richer you will be in the coming year. The reason has to do with its shape, which is similar to that of ingots; thus, eating jiao zi has the auspicious meaning of “attracting wealth and prosperity”. Additionally, the filling also has a unique significance. Jiao zi is stuffed with garlic chives, which in Chinese is a homonym of the word for “long” – implying long-lasting happiness. Jiao zi with cabbage and meat filling implies “great fortune”; while those with mushroom and meat filling imply “rousing fortune”.
During Chinese New Year, fish is indispensable and a must-eat on the dining table although there are also some stipulations. Fish is always eaten on Chinese New Year eve and on the first day of the Lunar New Year. The fish is cooked whole to signify abundance for the whole year. Additionally, the Chinese words for fish and excess are homonyms, meaning that there will be surplus in the year.
Lettuce signifies “wealth” and is a must-eat dish during Chinese New Year. If you wish to get a raise in the new year, lettuce is a must!
Chicken is a must-have dish on the dinner table during Chinese New Year eve. Eating chicken in the new year – the Chinese words for chicken and “auspicious” are homonyms – signifies good fortune. Serving whole chicken on the table symbolises the family’s good fortune and eating chicken wings signifies soaring success and flying high.
Eating tangyuan during Chinese New Year and Chap Goh Mei has different meanings. The glutinous rice balls eaten on the first day of the Lunar New Year are not actually called tangyuan, but rather yuanbao or “ingots”. Eating “yuanbao” during Chinese New Year symbolises good luck and a happy family reunion. Chap Goh Mei is a time to enjoy tangyuan, which has the beautiful meaning of family reunion that people love. Since it is customary for tangyuan to be eaten during the Lunar New Year, there is a folk saying that “eating tangyuan signifies becoming older by a year”!
No matter what you eat during the Lunar New Year, what is eaten is festive and auspicious, and what you savour is everyone’s best wishes for the festive season. Happy Chinese New Year to everyone, hop-piness and abundance for the Year of the Rabbit.
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