Chinese New Year Food Superstitions

February 8, 2011
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A Culinary Tradition

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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. As feasts are made to honor past relatives and to usher in a new year, deciding the kinds of food to make plays a key role. 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. “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: Fidelity Eggs: Fertility Shrimp:  Good luck 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, symbolizing 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. White Foods: Although white can mean purity, white foods like tofu are mostly avoided during the 15 day festival, as white can also symbolize bad luck and even death.

2 Responses to Chinese New Year Food Superstitions

  1. Armand
    February 9, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Hi I found your site by mistake when i searched Msn for this topic, I must say your site is quite helpful.

  2. May 2, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I was doing an essay for superstitions about food and i found this VERY helpful…and even interesting :)

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