Chinese New Year – Foods that bring good luck

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Much like the Western tradition of serving black-eyed peas during New Year’s celebrations as a symbol of prosperity, many Asian cultures celebrate the Chinese New Year with traditional foods that symbolize good luck. Citrus fruits bring prosperity either given as gifts or prominently displayed. Various kinds of citrus fruits provide different benefits:

  • Tangerines – translated from Cantonese, tangerine means wealth
  • Oranges – translated from Cantonese, orange means luck
  • Pomelos – the giant Chinese grapefruit is also symbolic of prosperity and heightened status
  • Pomegranates – these are said to ward off evil spirits while being a symbol of happiness and fertility

Dumplings are not only delicious, they symbolize wealth due to their shape. Filled with meat or vegetables, their shapes are said to resemble the form of a Chinese Yuanbao, or ingot, which was an old form of currency used in China. Assembling dumplings is a way to bring families together through a shared project. It is said that as the dumplings cook, family hopes and wishes from generations past are recovered. Fish, cooked whole, are a representation of plenty. Served whole as well, they represent an entire year of health and abundance. Niagao, or sticky cake, is a sweet treat that represents earning higher wages in the coming year. This glutinous, steamed rice cake can include sesame seeds or dates, if you are seeking early prosperity. Finally, to ensure longevity, prepare and share long noodles. Long noodles represent long life, and one requirement is to eat at least one long noodle whole during the celebration to receive its benefits. Sharing these traditional good-luck foods with your friends, business associates or family shows your positive spirit and gets the New Year off to a great start.

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