Certain dishes are eaten during the Chinese New Year for their symbolic meaning. Lucky food is served during the 16-day festival season, especially on Chinese New Year dinner on New Year’s Eve, which is believed to bring good luck for the coming year.
These lucky Chinese New Year foods are said to help bring good fortune—here’s a guide to their symbolic meanings.
Dumplings – Wealth
Dumplings are a traditional lucky food in China, and it’s fair to say you’re going to be feeling fairly fortunate with a steaming plate of delicious dumplings in front of you.
Commonly eaten on New Year’s Eve, dumplings are thought to resemble ancient Chinese money.
Some people even hide a coin inside one dumpling, and whoever gets the dumpling with the coin inside is thought to guarantee luck and wealth for the new year.
Long Life Noodles – Longevity
Long Life or Longevity Noodles, also known as Yi Mein, are extra long noodles – sometimes up to two feet in length – to symbolise a long life ahead.
The length of the noodle is very important; they mustn’t be broken down into smaller pieces.
This staple food for Chinese New Year tends to be cooked in a simple sauce with a few greens, but is sometimes served with a dish known as Concubine Chicken.
A whole fish – Fortune
A whole steamed fish is a common sight on the dinner table at Chinese New Year.
The fish is thought to guarantee abundance and good fortune, but there’s even more important etiquette in how the fish is served.
The head of the fish should point towards older and special guests at the dinner table, and after one side of the fish has been eaten, it should not be turned over as this could reverse the fortune.
Depending on the region, different types of fish are served: some serve sea bass whereas others choose trout.
Spring rolls – Prosperity
A favourite for many Chinese food fans, spring rolls are a symbol of wealth and prosperity.
Their golden colour is thought to symbolise riches
Oranges – Wealth
Oranges are often gifted or kept around the home at the time of Chinese New Year, as the vibrant orange colour and the fullness of the fruit symbolises prosperity.