New Year is celebrated on January 1st throughout the world yet, in many cultures, the New Year is celebrated on a different day following the lunar calendar and is known as Chinese or Lunar New Year. The first day of the lunar calendar always starts on the new moon. Because of that, the Chinese New Year can range from mid-January through mid-February, depending on the moon’s cycle.
Unlike the western world’s new year’s celebration, the Chinese celebrate for up to two weeks, and China shuts down for a full seven days to commemorate the event. There are festivals, family gatherings, and good luck foods served to anticipate the start of a new year. The year 2022 will host the Chinese New Year on February 1, and we thought we would give you some insight into the good luck foods served during the event.
The Chinese people are known for their delicious dumplings, so of course, this cuisine is eaten during the New Year. The thought behind it is that the more dumplings you eat, the wealthier you will be in the new year.
Dumplings contain minced meat and vegetables covered in dough and are fried or boiled before consumption. Not only are the dumpling eaten, but it’s also vital that they are arranged in a straight line and not a circle. The idea behind this is that if you set them in a circle, you will walk in circles and never get anywhere in life. Sometimes a white string is placed inside one of the dumplings. Whoever eats that dumpling will be blessed with longevity. Before eating the dumplings, the Chinese people say, “bringing in wealth and treasure.” That leads to more assurance that the new year will be prosperous.
“May you always have more than you need” is traditionally said before eating fish for the Chinese New Year. What fish is eaten will depend on what it forecasts for the upcoming year. For instance, catfish will bring you a surplus in the new year. Not only is it important to eat fish, but it must also be consumed last and should have leftovers to demonstrate the abundance that you want. How the fish is arranged is also essential. The head of the fish faces the eldest of the family, and that person must eat the fish first before anyone else. Also, the person at the head of the fish and the tail share a drink for luck.
Some of the types of fish eaten for good luck are the Chinese mud carp (a wish for good fortune), a catfish (a desire for a “year surplus”), and a Crucian carp (good luck for the coming year).
3. Sweet Rice Balls
Sweet rice balls are eaten after saying “Happy reunion” to signify the family being together with their round shape. Typically, the rice balls are consumed during the Chinese Lantern Festival, marking the end of the new year’s celebrations. However, most people eat them throughout the festivities to symbolize family togetherness.
4. Spring Rolls
Another food representing wealth, spring rolls, are consumed throughout the Chinese New Year. They usually contain meat and vegetables and are surrounded by thin dough slices. They are served fried and are delicious. Before consuming a spring roll, a common saying is “a ton of gold” to embrace the wealth that they signify.
5. Nian Gao
Nian Gao or glutinous rice cake is another lucky food eaten around the Chinese New Year. It signifies getting higher in life. It can refer to a child increasing in height or a rise in revenue for your business. Anything that can grow in your life is associated with consuming nian gao in the new year. It’s made with sticky rice, Chinese dates, sugar, lotus leaves, and chestnuts.
6. Longevity Noodles
Noodles that are uncut and longer than usual are eaten at the Chinese New Year to symbolize longevity in life. They can be served boiled or fried with an arrangement of vegetables or broth. These noodles, also known as changshou mian (“long-life noodles”), can be up to 2 feet long and, if broken during the cooking process, can mean bad luck. So if you choose to include these noodles in your Chinese New Year Feast, be sure to be delicate.
Chinese New Year fruit is a staple with different meanings. The orange and tangerine represent luck and good fortune, while the round and gold-colored fruit symbolize wealth and prosperity. Grapefruits are often consumed to represent the family.
Happy Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year festivities are just starting to kick off, with February 1st right around the corner. According to Chinese culture, eating any of these good luck foods will bring about a happy and prosperous new year. Chances are they will also leave you feeling full and satisfied too.
Anconitano, Veruska. “9 Traditional Foods for Chinese New Year 2022.” The Food Dwellers. Web. Accessed 22 Jan 2022. <https://thefoodellers.com/en/chinese-new-year-food>
Cindy. “Top 7 Chinese New Year Foods to Bring You Good Luck 2022.” 19 Jan 2022. China Highlights. Web. Accessed 22 Jan 2022. <https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-food/chinese-new-year-food.htm>Tarlton, Amanda. “10 Lucky Foods for Your Chinese New Year Feast.” 04 Feb 2021. Taste Of Home. Web. Accessed 22 Jan 2022. <https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/lucky-foods-for-your-chinese-new-year-feast>