Every meal traditionally eaten during the Chinese New Year has a symbolic meaning. Some suggest eating the most auspicious meals to be welcomed by a year filled with abundance and fortune. The most significant Chinese New Year foods and their reasons are as follows:
Traditionally, the more dumplings you consume during the New Year’s festivities, the more money you may expect to make the next year. Dumplings are a staple of Chinese cuisine and are linked to prosperity. However, it’s important to note that certain dumplings have varying connotations.
Dumplings with cabbage and radish are a symbol of wealth for the body and the mind. Meanwhile, dumplings with sauerkraut are not recommended since they signify a poor and tough future. Additionally, dumplings must be put in lines to represent life’s progress.
2. Steamed Chicken
Since a whole chicken is another symbol of the family, it is recommended to first offer the chicken to the ancestors after it has been cooked in order to ask for protection and blessings.
Fish is frequently steamed and is a common Chinese New Year meal. Depending on the preferences of the family, many species of fish may be served such as crucian carp, which is believed to be auspicious for the upcoming year.
Additionally, Chinese mud carp is also recommended to eat as it is said to bring good luck, along with catfish, which symbolizes a request for a year of abundance. Since fish is said to be a good omen of having more money in the new year, it should be the last dish served at dinner with some leftovers.
This calls for careful placement of the fish on the dinner table, such as the head should be turned toward senior visitors or noteworthy guests. Additionally, only when the person facing the fish head has finished eating may the other diners enjoy the fish. The proverb “may you always have more than you need!” is used in conjunction with eating the fish.
Each vegetable on a Chinese dinner table has a particular symbolism and plays a significant function. For example, bamboo shoots stand for endurance, poria mushrooms symbolize good fortune and benefits, grapefruit and muskmelons stand for family, and seaweed is a symbol of prosperity and wealth.
5. Spring Rolls
Eating this meal during the Lunar Year is referred to as “Spring Rolling” especially (also called the Spring Festival). Although there are no set guidelines for eating spring rolls, it is customary to refer to them as “a ton of gold” in order to symbolize wealth.