In just a few short days, the Lunar New Year will be upon us. We’re here to make sure that you have all the right ingredients to mix up some good and well-deserved fortune for 2021.
Here are eight lucky food to kick off the Chinese New Year celebrations:
Dumplings are a traditional staple during the new year festivities because of their shape! Because they look like gold ingots, which were used as currency in ancient China, dumplings are often used to symbolize wealth.
A whole plate of steamed fish is commonly served during the Lunar New Year due to the fact that, in Mandarin, fish (鱼, yú) sounds similar to surplus (余, yú). The Chinese generally like having a surplus at the end of the year because of the belief that saving enough from the previous year can make one earn more in the next.
3. Oranges & Tangerines
No other fruit screams wealth and fortune more than oranges and tangerines! Not only is the color of these two fruits bright and similar to gold, but the character used to identify them is also called 橙 (chéng), which sounds like success (成, chéng).
4. Longevity Noodles
Traditionally, this is prepared as one extremely long noodle strand that must be eaten without being cut off. To bite off the noodle is unlucky because the noodle is meant to represent how long one’s life is! Nowadays, however, the dish is served as a bowl of long noodles doused in either broth or a thick gravy-like sauce.
5. Spring Rolls
Spring rolls (春卷, chūn juǎn) are named as such because of the tradition to eat them during the Spring Festival, which is another name for the Lunar New Year. Globally recognized as a Cantonese dim sum dish, spring rolls are a CNY favorite since they’re golden-yellow — the color of wealth!
Niangao (年糕, nián gāo), literally translating to “year cake,” is a sweet glutinous rice dessert that consists of sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, dates, and lotus leaves. The dish is often eaten in hopes of getting a higher income or position because its name can be perceived as the phrase 年高, which can mean “to get higher year-by-year.”
Yet another dessert to add to your list, tangyuan (汤圆, tāng yuán) is made up of sweet glutinous rice balls stuffed with sesame paste, red beans, fruits, or chocolate. Their roundness is associated with the concept of family, reunion, and being together, making them popular during the new year.
Fagao (发糕, fā gāo), otherwise known as prosperity cakes, are steamed cupcake-like pastries known for their “blossoming” tops. Their reputation as a fortune-bringing dessert comes from another fantastic example of Chinese wordplay — while 发, in this case, means “leavened,” one of the other translations of the character is also “fortune”!