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Food is a very important part of Chinese New Year, in fact its more of a feast.

This feast is extremely important to the Chinese. All family members must come back. Even if they truly can’t, the rest of the family will leave their spot empty and place a spare set of utensils for them.

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.

Here are just some of dishes to be eaten:

Fish for prosperity

Grab a whole fish and steam, boil, or braise it like they do – carp and catfish are popular choices for auspicious reasons.

Jiaozi (Dumplings)

In winter, a steaming cauldron of boiling water sits on every stove, ready to cook jiaozi at a moment’s notice. Today, making dumplings together at Chinese New Year is a tradition shared by almost every Chinese family.

Sautéed rice cake

Gao means “cake” in Chinese and during the holiday season, the sticky rice dish is served. 

Spring rolls

Spring rolls get their name because they are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival. It is a Chinese New Year dish especially popular in East China: Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Fujian, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, etc.

Whole Chicken

Togetherness is an overarching theme of the Lunar New Year, and a whole chicken is another visual signifier of that unity.

Noodles

Noodles are a special food for Chinese New Year. They are usually eaten on important festivals or one’s birthday.

Oranges

Oranges, kumquats, tangerines and pomelos are common Chinese New Year gifts because they’re believed to bring good luck and happiness. The Chinese words for “orange” and “tangerine” closely resemble the words for “luck” and “wealth.”