10 Lucky Foods for Your Chinese New Year Feast
These lucky Chinese New Year foods are said to help bring good fortune—here's a guide to their symbolic meanings.
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Tray of Togetherness
Often divided into either six or eight compartments, the round Tray of Togetherness represents peace and family harmony. Fill the tray with an assortment of small treats like dried fruit, nuts or candy, like this strawberry Lucky Candy. You could also include these homemade Chinese Almond Cookies.
Resembling bars of gold, spring rolls are said to bring wealth and good fortune. You can stuff these deep-fried rolls with various fillings, including pork, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, cabbage and assorted other veggies. Learn how to make spring rolls at home with this Crispy Sriracha Spring Rolls recipe.
Known as changshou mian (which means “long-life noodles”), these noodles are up to 2 feet long. (Longevity noodles are also common at birthday celebrations.) According to Chinese tradition, the longer the noodle, the luckier you’ll be. Just be careful not to accidentally break one while you’re cooking—that’s bad luck because it represents a life cut short.
Be sure to serve these if you host a Chinese New Year party!
According to ancient legend, the number of dumplings you eat during the Chinese New Year predicts the amount of money you’ll make in the upcoming year (the more, the better). While pork is the most common dumpling filling, you can also opt for shrimp, chicken or vegetables. When it comes time to cook the dumplings, you can either boil them or pan fry them. Here’s how to make dumplings step by step.
Sweet Rice Balls
These sweet rice balls are common during the Chinese New Year for good reason: Their round shape signifies unity. These gooey balls also represent harmony and family togetherness because their name (tang yuan) sounds like the word “reunion” in Chinese (tuan yuan).
A whole fish (known as dayu darou or “big fish”) signifies abundance and family unity. The fish is often steamed and served with a simple sauce on the side, such as soy sauce or sweet-and-sour sauce. You could also try it with this Sweet-Hot Asian Dipping Sauce.
Oranges and Other Citrus
Oranges, kumquats, tangerines and pomelos are common Chinese New Year gifts because they’re believed to bring good luck and happiness. The Chinese words for “orange” and “tangerine” closely resemble the words for “luck” and “wealth.” The gold color of these fruits also symbolizes prosperity.
The Chinese word for this cake—nian gao—is pronounced exactly like the word for “higher year,” which is what makes this dessert so lucky. The sticky rice flour cake was originally used as an offering during ritual ceremonies. Now, it’s eaten on the first day of the year to bring better health, wealth and happiness.
Eight Treasure Rice
This traditional dish is made with sticky rice and adorned with eight “treasures”—a variety of seeds, nuts, and fruits like plums, jackfruit and raisins. Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture, and eating desserts on this holiday represents sweetness for the year ahead.
These steamed rice flour cakes (fa gao) are known for their split tops. According to tradition, the more segments the top of your cake has, the luckier you’ll be in the new year. Fa gao translates to “prosperity cake,” so it’s no surprise that these treats are popular during the Chinese New Year.