The Lunar New Year (aka Chinese New Year in my family) is a time to feast and spend time with family. Food is a very important part of our celebrations and many dishes and foods are included because of their symbolic meaning – longevity, harmony, luck, wealth and happiness.
Here are some foods you might find at a Chinese New Year celebration:
Several noodle dishes are usually served when celebrating the new year. Noodles symbolize longevity and a long life.
Although I don’t have a high tolerance for spicy foods, this Spicy Peanut Dan Dan Noodle dish is one of my favourites. I just can’t stop eating them once I start. I just need many glasses of water in between bites.
2. Greens – Chinese Vegetable or Long Green Beans
The Cantonese word for vegetable sounds like “fortune” so greens are typically served with any meal. During new year celebrations they are usually uncut as to represent longevity, like noodles are.
3. Whole Fish and Chicken
Whole fish and chicken are served because they represent prosperity, abundance and harmony. With the head and tail still attached, fish is served near the end of a meal. It represents a good beginning and ending for the coming year.
Chicken is served with the head, tail and feet on the same plate as the rest of the meat.
4. Oranges & Tangerines
Chinese families buy crates or boxes of tangerines and oranges leading up to the Lunar New Year. They represent wealth and luck and are usually passed out to any friend, family member or given as hostess gifts. Some believe they symbolize fertility so newlyweds are sometimes given a few oranges and tangerines too around this time.
My favourite part of Chinese New Year. Although we eat dumplings often outside of new year celebrations, consumption of dumplings doubles or triples at this time of year because of their symbolic meaning – prosperity.
Many families gather to make dumplings from scratch with their own special recipe for the filling (similar to how Italian families have secret recipes for ravioli).
Above are some soup filled dumplings that my family loves to eat. We unfortunately don’t know how to make them so we usually have them when we go out to eat.
For those celebrating the Lunar New Year this weekend – here’s to a healthy, happy, and prosperous new year!
Gung Hey Fat Choy! Gong Xi Fa Cai!