13 Things You Didn’t Know About Chinese New Year Food

Get ready to stuff yourself with snacks and goodies as Chinese New Year is round the corner! If you are wondering when is Chinese New Year, it starts on the 28th of January in 2017. For those who do not know much about Chinese New Year, it is the first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar and typically lasts for 7 days. It is a time when families come together and have reunions and gatherings during this season.

If you have been wondering about why you have been eating the same Chinese New Year food and snacks every year, there is an auspicious meaning behind them! Here is a list of CNY food and what they symbolise that you may want to know about:

1. Abalone – Good Fortune

Chinese New Year Abalone Food Symbolism

Photo Credit: Cookpad

Abalones (?) are known to be a symbol of good fortune as it has the same pronunciation as the word “?” in Chinese, which means fortune. The cost of abalones are very likely to increase as the festive season approaches, so do research on where to get the cheapest abalone soon!

2. Bak Kwa – Good Luck

Barbequed Pork Jerky

Photo credit: wikimedia

Bak Kwa is a barbequed pork jerky that is sweet and savoury at the same time. This Chinese New Year snack represents good luck according to Chinese tradition and it is a snack that will definitely be found in every Chinese household during this festive season. However, do remember to eat cautiously as bak kwa is high in calories and eating too much of it will increase the risk of getting cancer.

3. Dumplings – Wealth

Jiao Zi Dumplings Chinese New Year

Photo credits: Pinterest

Dumplings are a symbol of wealth as they have a similar shape to the gold and silver ingots used in ancient Chinese history! Just in case you do not know how an ingot looks like, here is a picture of a gold ingot!

Chinese New Year Ancient Gold Inglot

Photo credits: FengShui Best Buy


4. Fish – Prosperity


Photo credits: flickr

The pronunciation of fish (?) in Chinese resembles the word “surplus” (?), which the Chinese believe to mean that there will be a surplus or abundance of wealth. It is also commonly associated with a popular Chinese New Year greeting – “????”.

5. Mandarin Oranges – Luck and Prosperity

Chinese New Year oranges

Photo credits: pixabay

Why are oranges always used during Chinese New Year and are given in pairs to the adults and elderly? Giving oranges is a traditional Chinese New Year custom as the colour orange is similar to gold. Hence, it has an auspicious meaning of bringing in luck and prosperity.

6. Noodles – Longevity

Chinese Noodles

Photo credits: chineserestaurantinsingapore

Noodles have an auspicious meaning behind it too! It is known that the longer the noodles, the longer you will live. Hence, noodles are not cut when served during this festive season and is kept as long as possible! So remember not to cut them while you are eating them too!

7. Peanuts – Fertility

Chinese New Year peanuts

Photo credits: pixabay

Peanuts are associated with fertility as the word “?” in peanut (??), means to give birth. If you are a newly-wedded couple, do not be surprised when everyone keeps trying to get you to eat peanuts this Chinese New Year!

8. Pineapple Tarts – Prosperity

Chinese New Year Pineapple Tarts

Photo credits: wikimedia

The pineapples in pineapple tarts symbolizes prosperity because its Hokkien pronunciation is “Ong Lai”, which literally translates to prosperity coming. Even though they have an auspicious meaning and are super delicious, do remember to eat them moderately as they are high in calories!

9. Pomelo Fruit – Prosperity and Luck


Photo credits: sophiemichelin

The Cantonese name of the fruit is similar to the word prosperity. Pomelos are also a common gift to temples during Chinese New Year.

10. Rice Cake – Prosperity, Going to Greater Heights

Sticky Rice Cake Nian Gao

Photo credits: YouTube

Rice cakes are associated with prosperity as the Chinese name for Rice Cakes (??) represents the greeting “????”, which means to go to greater heights and climb to higher positions in life. If you want to impress your parent in-laws, there are many Do-It-Yourself rice cake recipes all over the internet and on YouTube, so you can make one of your own and gift it to them!

11. Sea Moss – Wealth

Sea Moss and abalone

Photo credits: malaysiamostwanted

Sea Moss translates to get wealth (??) in Cantonese and the word “??” is commonly used in the Chinese New Year greeting – ????. Ugly as it may seem, sea moss is actually quite delicious when cooked!

12. Sweets – Sweet Life

Chinese New Year Sweets

Photo credits: pinterest

It is believed that eating sweets will “help” one to have a sweet life ahead when consumed during Chinese New Year! The sweets and light snacks are usually placed in a special octagon box known as “Ba Bao He”, Eight Treasures Box. The number 8 is also auspicious according to Chinese beliefs as it has the same pronunciation as “?”, which means “to prosper”.

13. Tang Yuan – Togetherness

Tang Yuan

Photo credits: choodoris

Representing reunion and being together, tang yuan, or glutinous rice balls, is a dessert that encompasses the idea of family reunions during Chinese New Year. It is believed that a family will be together in unity and is linked to the Chinese phrase “????”.

If we have missed out any Chinese New Year food that you know, feel free to list them out in the comments below! PSLove wishes you a happy and joyous Chinese New Year this 2017!

Also, do check out our other Chinese New Year articles below:

*All images belong to its credited owners unless otherwise stated.


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