published 06 February 2018 Category: Compass Tips

How Symbolic Is Food During The Chinese New Year?

The Chinese New Year, otherwise known as the “Lunar New Year” or the “Spring Festival” has an immense significance and symbolism to the Chinese people.

Below are some foods that are widely eaten during the Chinese New Year that have interesting superstitions behind them. There are also a few that people stay away from to escape bad luck and misfortune…

Oranges & Tangerines: Symbolic of wealth and good fortune, you will often see big bowls of these fruits to show off one’s good luck. If the leaves are still attached, they also represent fertility.

Melons & Pomelos: These large round fruits are symbolic of family and the wholeness and togetherness of families.

Chicken: Like the aforementioned fruits, chicken is symbolic of family and togetherness along with unity and prosperity. Remember to keep the feet and the head on when cooking!

Fish: A whole steamed fish (eyes and all) is regularly served and signifies abundance, prosperity, and wealth. “Yu” is the Chinese word for fish and translates to “plenty” meaning that families are sustained in the future.

Noodles: Represent longevity in life and therefore they shouldn’t be cut before serving!

Turnips: In Chinese, turnips are called “cai tou” meaning “good luck”.

Egg Rolls: The Chinese belief is that when fried, these rolls look like “golden bars,” representing good fortune.

Duck: Affection and fidelity.

Eggs: Fertility.

Shrimp:  Happiness and good fortune.

Dumplings: Many families insert a golden coin into one of the hundreds of dumplings made during their celebration. Whoever bites into the golden dumpling is said to have immense wealth and prosperity in the coming year.

Pomegranates: These red fruits are symbolic of happiness, thus driving away evil spirits. The seeds also play a part, symbolising abundance and fertility.

Foods to Avoid:
Squid: Be very cautious if squid, known as “Yow Yu” is served to you during the Chinese New Year. It symbolically foreshadows that you will be fired in the coming year.

Porridge: Said to bring poverty if eaten on the morning of the first day of Chinese New Year.

White Foods: Although white can mean purity, white foods like tofu are mostly avoided during the 15 day festival, as white can also symbolise bad luck and even death.

As feasts are made to honour past relatives and to usher in a new year, deciding the kinds of food to make plays a key role.