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Chinese Culture >> Chinese Food Articles >> Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Food Symbols

"Lucky" Chinese New Year symbols are an important part of celebrating the Spring Festival.

After all, it is the start of spring -- a perfect time to have your New Year wishes come true!

And what better way to usher in happiness, prosperity and health than to enjoy "auspicious food" with family and friends?

Here are the Top 8 auspicious food symbols for
Chinese New Year.

Top 8 Auspicious Food Symbols for Chinese New Year

1. Hot Pot

A steaming hot pot (or Chinese fondue) with meat, seafood and vegetables) is a must.

Huo3 in hot pot huo3 guo3 is the same word as huo3 in hong2 huo3  “prosperous and booming”.

2. Fish

Another must-have dish if you want to experience abundance in the new year.

Fish yu2 is the most popular dish served during Chinese New Year.

In Chinese fish has the same sound as “surplus” and “abundance” 余.

A whole fish is served on Chinese New Year’s eve for the reunion dinner.

Usually the fish is steamed.

It is a good omen to leave the bones and head and tail intact.

This symbolizes surplus/abundance and a good beginning and end in the new year.

Best served whole.

3. Shrimp

Shrimp xia1 in Mandarin and ha in Cantonese sounds like someone laughing.

Eat shrimp for happiness and well-being.

4. Boiled dumplings

A Chinese New Year tradition is eating boiled dumplings.

These are shaped like gold ingots.

Dumplings jiao3 zi sounds like jiao1 zi3 which means the hour of transition into the New Year.

Hence, in northern China, dumplings filled with meat are eaten on Chinese New Year’s eve to usher in good luck and wealth in the New Year.

Sometimes a coin is placed in one of the dumplings. Whoever bites on it will have plenty of wealth in the new year.

When dumplings and yellow noodles are cooked together they mean “golden threads through gold ingots”.

In the eastern cities of China, like Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou, egg dumplings are eaten as they look like gold ingots.

5. Oyster

Hao2 sounds like hao3 shi4 which means “good things”.

In southern China, it is served with thin rice noodles.

6. Green vegetables

For close family ties, serve some greens.

Qing1 cai4 sounds like qing1 as in qin1 re meaning “close/intimate”

7. Sticky rice cake

Nian2 gao1.

Nian2 means year and cake gao1 sounds the same as high gao1 .

So eating this steamed cake made of rice flour and topped with red dates has the meaning of attaining greater prosperity and rank in the new year.

8. Noodles

Known as chang2 shou4 mian4 meaning "longevity noodles".

A wish for good fortune -- Good Luck, Prosperity, Longevity, Happiness and Abundance -- is central to the Chinese way of life.

Even more so during
Chinese New Year!

About the Author

For more auspicious Chinese food symbols and DIY Chinese recipes, visit Want to discover the culture of Chinese symbols and characters and enhance your life? LIOW Kah Joon is your guide. Read his Chinese New Year Special and sign up for his free monthly Chinese Symbols ezine at Living Chinese Symbols.