In this blog post, we have shared the Traditional Chinese New Year Food Dishes and the symbols associated with them. We will tell you what you all need to eat on the Chinese New Year Spring Festival. On the happy occasion of the Chinese New Year, some certain food dishes are used due to their symbolic meaning and these Chinese New Year Food Dishes are known as Lucky food. These food dishes are served during the 15 Days Long Chinese New Year Spring Festival and considered as a good fortune for the coming year. These 7 Traditional Chinese New Year Food Dishes has a symbolic association regarding preparation, serving and eating. Here are the luckiest and common Chinese New Year Foods Dishes are Chinese New Year Dumplings, Spring Rolls, Fish, Tangyuan, New Year Fruits, Noodles and Niango. Here we will also explain the symbolism associated with all these Chinese Lunar New Year Food Dishes.
7 Lucky Traditional Chinese New Year Food Dishes With Associated Symbolism:
Fish 蒸鱼 (zhēng yú) — Increase in Prosperity:
Fish (鱼—yú) is one of these 7 Traditional Chinese New Year Dishes and it symbolizes as increase or surplus in wealth and prosperity. Every Chine likes surplus and it is related to making more in next year. Chinese people love to eat steamed fish on the happy occasion of the Chinese New Year. Chinese people steam whole fish and eat one half of the fish for dinner on the Chinese New Year’s Eve and other half eat on the next day. This act is assumed as the surplus and future prosperous while a whole fish is considered as a harmonious. Also, some people cook bigheaded carp and eat the middle part only while the head and tail remain untouched. This is to be assumed that the year will start in a surplus and also finish with a surplus.
Chinese New Year Fish Eating Rules:
- During the Chinese New Year dinner, the fish head must be placed in front of the guests or elders of the family.
- No one can start eating the fish before the person who faces the fish head.
- It is compulsory that the fish will not be turned. The people who are sitting in front of the fish head and tail must drink together which symbolizes in lucky meaning.
Chinese Phrases About Fish:
- 年年有余 (Niánnián yǒu yú /nyen-nyen yo yoo/)
- 鱼跃龙门 (Yú yuè lóngmén /yoo ywair long-mnn/)
- 有头有尾 (yǒu tóu yǒu wěi)
The Fish can be prepared in different ways including as steaming, boiling and braising. Some of the very famous Chinese fish dishes are vinegar sauce steamed fish, pickled cabbage chili fish, steamed weever and spicy broth boiled fish.
Dumplings 饺子 (jiǎo zi) — Wealth:
Dumplings are one of the most eaten Chinese occasional food. This dish is traditionally eaten on the Chinese New Year’s Eve every year and it is most popular in whole China, especially in the Northen part of China. Chinese dumplings are like Chinese silver ingots (boat-shaped, oval and turned up at both ends). According to the Chinese Legend eating more dumplings on the New Year celebrations cause an increase in your money during the New Year.
Basically, the Dumplings consist of thin elastic dough skin, wrapped chopped vegetables and minced meat. Vegetables, diced shrimp, ground chicken, minced pork, and beef are considered as most popular fillings. Dumplings can be cooked by baking, steaming, frying and boiling.
Spring Rolls — Wealth 春卷 (chūn juǎn):
The Spring Rolls are eaten during the Chinese New Year and it is the most known Chinese cuisine. Chinese Spring Rolls are mostly used as snack, appetizer and dinner dish. It is most popular in the Eastern part of China including Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Fujian, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai.
Cylindrical-shaped spring rolls (春卷 Chūnjuǎn /chwnn- jwen/) are filled with vegetables, meat, or something sweet. These rolls are wrapped in thin dough and fried until the golden-yellow color. Different size and shaped Spring rolls can also made through baking or steaming but deep fried are most popular.
Nian Gao 年糕 (nián gāo) Rice Cake — Higher Income or Position:
Chinese New Year Glutinous Rice Cake (年糕 Niángāo) is a famous traditional Chinese New Year Food recipe. According to the Chinese symbolization, glutinous rice cake means “getting higher year-on- by year”. Chinese associate their success in business along with the improvement in general life. This Chinese New Year Food Recipe has the following ingredients rice, sugar, lotus leaves, chestnuts, and Chinese dates.
Chinese Lucky Sayings:
年年高 (niánnián gāo /nyen-nyen gaoww/): “getting higher year-on- by year” means that it can increase in business, raise children’s height, success in study, and job promotions.
Sweet Rice Balls (Tāngyuán 汤圆 – Family Togetherness):
Tāngyuán is known as sweet rice balls and it is one of the most important Chinese New Year Lantern Festival food recipe. In the south part of China, people eat this recipe throughout the Spring Festival. In Chinese symbolization, the tangyuan is associated with a family reunion and togetherness. This is very famous among the Chinese people during the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Longevity Noodles (长寿面 Chángshòu) — Happiness & Longevity:
The longevity Noodles is also a Chinese New Year Food Dish which has symbolic meanings in Chinese culture. These noodles are much longer and uncut as compared to the normal noodles. The longevity noodles meaning is associated with the wish for longevity. These longer noodles dish is prepared through boiling and served in the bowl or fried and served in the plate.
Good Fortune Fruit (橙 chéng /chnng/)— Fullness and Wealth
Chinese people eat many kinds of fruits on the occasion of the Chinese New Year Spring Festival. These good fortune fruits are round and golden color and following fruits are included in it which are pomelos, tangerines, and oranges. These good fortune fruits symbolizing the fullness and wealth. It is considered that good luck and fortune bring due to eating and displaying tangerines and oranges.
The vegetable dish is called 田园素小炒 (tián yuán sù xiǎo chǎo) in Chinese. On the happy occasion of the Chinese New Year, a mixed vegetable dish can be seen on the table which has different kinds of mushrooms, jujube and Chinese cabbage included.
Some symbolization associated with vegetables are:
- Lotus seeds: considered as a blessing for many children and a healthy family
- Seaweed: associated with wealth and fortune
- Bamboo shoots: represent longevity
- Muskmelon and grapefruit: symbolize family, hope, wealth and prosperity.
- Osmanthus flower petals: (桂—guì) noble and precious
- Leek/chives: leek (韭—jiǔ) everlasting and long
- Poria mushrooms: (茯苓—fú líng) blessings and fortune