Chinese Lucky Foods for Lunar New Year

(Last Updated on March 4, 2024 by Amiee)

For the Chinese, the spring festival is the most important festival of the year. Family members get together to set off the old year and welcome the new year. All kinds of delicious food will be shown at this time, of course including lucky foods with good meanings. Although the customs and foods are not the same in different places, they all entrust good hopes for the new year.

  1. Dumplings

On the eve of the Lunar New Year, the northerners partake in a cherished tradition of savoring dumplings. At the stroke of midnight, precisely when the clock strikes twelve, these dumplings, known as “Jiao Zi,” are consumed, symbolizing the transition from the old year to the new. In the melodic tones of the Chinese language, the word “Jiao Zi” bears resemblance to the term for midnight. Furthermore, their shape, reminiscent of ancient ingots, embodies wishes for abundant wealth in the forthcoming year.

Notably, the selection of vegetables used in the dumpling fillings carries profound meaning:

Celery signifies industriousness in pursuit of financial prosperity. Leeks embody the notion of enduring wealth and abundance. Chinese cabbage represents a cornucopia of blessings encompassing a multitude of riches.

This time-honored practice of relishing dumplings on New Year’s Eve evokes a sense of cultural reverence and optimism for a year brimming with auspicious fortune.

 

2. A whole fish

The presence of a whole fish gracing the New Year’s dinner table is an indispensable tradition. While northerners savor the fish braised in a rich brown sauce, their southern counterparts prefer the delicate simplicity of steamed fish.

Remarkably, the Chinese word for “fish” shares a phonetic resemblance with the term for “surplus” or “abundance.” This linguistic connection imbues the fish with a symbolic significance of prosperity and surplus for the coming year. The inclusion of this auspicious dish signifies the wish for an abundance of blessings and a year filled with plentiful opportunities.

Across the nation, the culinary preferences may differ, but the underlying sentiment remains the same – the celebration of unity, good fortune, and the hopeful anticipation of a prosperous year ahead.

3. Spring rolls

The Spring Festival marks not only the commencement of the new year but also the awakening of spring. As a cherished tradition, it is customary to indulge in spring rolls during this festive occasion, symbolizing auspiciousness and good fortune. These delectable rolls encapsulate the joyful spirit of the season, ushering in prosperity and optimism for the year ahead.

4. Rice cakes

In Chinese culture, the pronunciation of “Nian Gao” shares a phonetic similarity with the phrase that signifies one’s social status or position progressively elevating each year. Nian Gao, a traditional sticky rice cake, holds a symbolic significance during the Spring Festival. By consuming Nian Gao, it is believed that one is imbued with positive energy, prosperity, and continuous upward growth in all aspects of life. This cherished delicacy represents the aspirations for ongoing success, advancement, and an ever-improving social standing as the years unfold.

5. Pork trotters

For individuals hailing from Southern China, stewed pork trotters hold an irreplaceable role on the dining table during festive occasions. This delectable dish symbolizes the accumulation of wealth and financial abundance. Indulging in these succulent trotters signifies the belief that prosperity and monetary gains will always be within reach. As an indispensable delicacy, it embodies the hopes and aspirations for a year filled with financial success and the assurance of financial stability.

6. Chicken

In the realm of language and cultural symbolism, the resonant harmony between the Chinese term for “chicken” and its English counterpart, “auspicious,” weaves a tapestry of elegance and meaning. The melodic pronunciation of “ji” in Chinese not only evokes images of our feathered friends but also carries the essence of fortuity and favorable tidings. This delightful linguistic connection inspires a belief that partaking in chicken delicacies during celebratory moments invites a cascade of good fortune and blessings for the year ahead.

7. Steamed sponge cake

Partaking in the tradition of savoring steamed sponge cake holds a special place in Cantonese culture, symbolizing not only the attainment of wealth but also the aspiration for prosperity and elevation. This delicate and fluffy delicacy carries the promise of financial abundance and upward mobility. As we relish each tender bite of the steamed sponge cake, we embrace the profound desires for wealth and advancement that resonate within Cantonese customs.

8. Glutinous rice balls(Tang Yuan)

The round shape of glutinous rice balls symbolizes the cherished tradition of family reunion. As we indulge in these delightful treats, their spherical form serves as a gentle reminder of the unbreakable bonds that tie us together. This simple yet elegant symbolism encapsulates the essence of togetherness, harmony, and the joyous reunions experienced during festive occasions.

9. Deep-fried glutinous ball(Jian Dui)

Deep-fried glutinous balls coated with white sesame seeds carry a symbolic representation of abundant wealth permeating the household. These delectable treats embody the notion of prosperity, as the crispy exterior and the fragrant white sesame seeds allude to the influx of financial blessings.  These delightful delicacies serve as a reminder of the auspicious energies that surround us, inviting good fortune to grace our lives.

10. Noodles

In traditional customs, the seventh day of the first lunar month holds significance as “Person’s Day.” It is on this auspicious occasion that people partake in the tradition of consuming noodles. The act of enjoying noodles on this day is imbued with the profound symbolism of longevity. By relishing these elongated strands, individuals express their wishes for a life filled with vitality, endurance, and the blessings of sustained health.

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