8 Lucky Foods to Eat During the Lunar New Year
You are what you eat — perhaps especially during the Lunar New Year. In our last post, we talked about how you can up your luck, and eating certain foods is one of them. Here are eight eats to feed your fortune as you ring in the New Year.
The centerpiece in many Chinese New Year feasts, dumplings are considered lucky because of their resemblance to an ancient Chinese currency, the ingot. For extra luck, you might throw a coin or date (a symbol of success) into the dumpling mix. Whomever receives the coin- or date-laden jiao zhi is said to have prosperity for the year.
The Chinese word for fish, yu, sounds like the word for “abundance.” Hence, the presence of fish during New Year meals, preferably with head and tail intact to ensure a good beginning and end to the upcoming year.
On the New Year (and your birthday too for that matter) be sure to eat long noodles for a long life. There’s even a special type for the New Year called, what else, longevity noodles. They’re longer than normal noodles and uncut. But if you can’t get your hands on them, just make sure your noodles are as long as possible.
A healthier version of its decadent cousin, the egg roll, spring rolls, which symbolize wealth, might have gotten their name because they’re served during the Spring Festival.
Oranges and tangerines are said to bring luck and prosperity for the New Year since the their names in Chinese sound, respectively, like “luck” and “wealth.” The presence of leaves is even better since the greenery represents longevity. However, never group the fruit in fours. "Four" in Chinese is a homonym for “death.”
Another fortunate New Year fruit is the pomelo (which in Chinese sounds like “to have again”). Want to double your luck? Have a tangelo, a cross between a tangerine and pomelo.
Tray of Togetherness
A round tray often with eight compartments (“eight” in Chinese sounds like “wealth”), each filled with candy, dried fruit, nuts, and other sweet tidbits to bring guests sweetness for the year. Typical Tray of Togetherness goodies include watermelon seeds, symbolizing fertility; candied coconut for family togetherness and unity; and candied ginger, for good health and longevity.
A glutinous rice cake with dates and cashews, nian gao, which translates as “year cake,” is a pun on “year high,” meaning reaching new heights of success in the coming year. Nian, by the way, also sounds like the Chinese word for sticky.
Typically eaten on the Lantern Festival, the 15th and last day of the Spring Festival, but also enjoyed throughout the two-week celebration. These sweet rice balls are eaten in a sweet syrup or broth, hence its name, “soup spheres.” The round shape suggests the circle of family brought back together for the New Year.