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Chinese New Year: foods to eat for good luck

Foodsto Celebrate Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year: Customs, Foods and Good Fortune!

Chinese New Year  -this is an important holiday to the Chinese. In fact, it is as Christmas is to those of us in America. Most factories and stores shut down for a period of up to two weeks. It is a time to spend with family and celebrate ancestors.

As Chinese would stay up on the New Year’s Eve till the early morning of the first day of the new year, when the very moment of the new year arrives people would say ‘Bainian, Bainian’to everyone around and some auspicious phrases.

Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality

Food is an important part of celebrating Chinese New Year. Many foods have symbolic meanings in the Chinese culture. This is somewhat similar to the practice of Americans eating certain types of food on New Year’s Day. The Chinese try to eat something that has a positive or hopeful connotation in their culture.

• Chicken and fish, symbolize happiness and prosperity and they are usually served whole. This is to ensure abundance from the start to finish of the year.
Chinese New Year Food Fish

• Oranges are plentiful in China, so it makes sense that dishes that contain oranges represent good fortune. Also, the word for tangerine sounds like the word for gold, so it is served for good fortune.
• Noodles represent longevity so, they should never be cut! Same goes for leafy greens and green beans.


Noodles are good luck but don’t cut them!

• Duck symbolizes fidelity
• Eggs symbolize fertility
• The word for Turnips (cai tou) means good luck in Chinese, so turnips may be served during this celebration.
• Bean curd or tofu, however, is avoided because its white color suggests death and misfortune.
• Sweets. Putting out a tray of sweets encourages a sweet life. Also the word Nian Gao had dual meanings “cake” and “high”. So Nian Gao is served because it has them meaning of reaching new heights in the new year.
• Yuanbao (Jiaozi). These are dumplings are very important in the Chinese culture as they symbolize good luck. They are made traditionally like you would expect, with pork or cabbage wrapped in dough and boiled.

Dumpling to eat Chinese New Year

Pork Dumplings

But the good news is you don’t have to be Chinese to celebrate Chinese New Year.

• You can have a party and invite your friends to all wear red. This is a very popular color with lots of positive connotation.
• You can have lanterns strung on your deck.
• Prepare or buy fortune cookies to serve your guests.
• At midnight, open your doors and windows, which is symbolic of letting go of the problems of the previous year.

Here are some menu suggestions if you are hosting a Chinese New Year Party:

Orange Beef
Chicken Lo Mein
Peking Duck
Pork Dumplings

Want to test your knowledge of Chinese New Year customs?

Chinese New Year’s Quiz

Chinese new year foods to eat So, now you are equipped with all the knowledge you need to have the best Chinese New Year ever! The only challenge is what will you cook?

About the author

Malika Bowling

Malika is the author of several books including Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! and the founder of Roamilicious. She is also a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant. Follow us @Roamilicious on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for the content not shared on the blog. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter (subscribe box below) and never miss a contest, giveaway or the latest must visit restaurant!