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Chinese New Year Food: Top 7 Lucky Foods and Symbolism



1. Fish

In Chinese, "fish" (鱼 Yú /yoo/) sounds like 'surplus'. Fish is a traditional Chinese New Year dish on the Chinese New Year dinner menu. Chinese people always like to have a surplus at the end of the year, because they think if they have managed to save something at the end of the year, then they can make more in the next year.



2. Chinese dumpling

With a history of more than 1,800 years, dumpling (饺子 Jiǎozi /jyaoww-dzrr/) is a classic lucky food for new year, and a traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year's Eve, widely popular in China, especially in North China.


3. Spring rolls

Spring rolls (春卷 Chūnjuǎn /chwnn- jwen/) get their name because they are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival. It is a Chinese New Year dish especially popular in East China: Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Fujian, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, etc.



4. Glutinous rice cake

Glutinous rice cake (年糕 Niángāo /nyen-gaoww/) is a lucky food eaten on Chinese New Year's Eve. In Chinese, glutinous rice cake sounds like it means "getting higher year-on- by year". In Chinese people's minds, this means the higher you are the more prosperous your business is a general improvement in life. The main ingredients of niangao are sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, Chinese dates, and lotus leaves.


5. Sweet rice ball

Sweet rice ball (汤圆 Tāngyuán /tung-ywen/) is the main food for China's Lantern Festival, however, in south China, people eat them throughout the Spring Festival. The pronunciation and round shape of tangyuan are associated with reunion and being together. That's why they are favored by the Chinese during the New Year celebrations.


6. Longevity noodles

Longevity noodles (长寿面 Chángshòu Miàn /chung-show myen/) unsurprisingly symbolize a wish for longevity. Their length and unsevered preparation are also symbolic of the eater's life.



7. Good fortune fruit

Certain fruits are eaten during the Chinese New Year period, such as tangerines and oranges, and pomeloes. They are selected as they are particularly round and "golden" in color, symbolizing fullness and wealth, but more obviously for the lucky sound they bring when spoken.

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