Celebrating Chinese New Year with Food

Chinese New Year celebrations are all about setting the tone for what’s to come. During this period, we spend time with family and friends, set off fireworks, and eat traditional meals. It’s those meals that really exemplify the holiday in my mind. Certain foods are said to bring good luck in the New Year. While dishes vary from region to region, these culinary delights in particular are my favorites:

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celebrating chinese new year
Photo: Wini Lao

1. Dumplings

Also called potstickers, these are chicken or pork in vegetables and a dumpling wrapper. It’s tradition to make these from scratch, but get them any way you can because dumplings symbolize prosperity. (They resemble ancient Chinese gold ingots.) Eating them as part of your Chinese New Year celebration is bound to bring wealth!

celebrating chinese new year
Photo: Wini Lao

2. Tangerines or Oranges

Prized for their round gold appearance, we eat these because in Mandarin, the character for “orange” is pronounced the same way as the character for “success.”

celebrating chinese new year
Photo: Wini Lao

3. Watermelon Seeds

It’s tradition to snack on candied fruits, chocolates and roasted watermelon seeds ahead of the main meal. Seeds of any kind are added to the menu because they symbolize the harvest, abundance and fertility.

celebrating chinese new year
Photo: Wini Lao

4. Niangao

This is a Mandarin word that means glutinous rice cake (in Cantonese we call it leen goh). There are a few different ways of making this dish, but I like to beat an egg, dip the niangao into it, and sauté it until crispy on the outside while still being gooey on the inside. We eat this because it symbolizes a higher position year after year. Think climbing the corporate ladder, earning a higher income with every passing year, or getting into a higher position of power.

celebrating chinese new year
Photo: Wini Lao

5. Steamed Whole Fish

In Mandarin, the character for “fish” is pronounced the same way as the character for “surplus,” so you can see why eating it is one of the most important Chinese New Year food traditions. Fish is always steamed whole for the New Year, and never cut into pieces. If you’re extra superstitious, avoid flipping the fish over and eating the other side because that is thought to bring bad luck. Instead, after you finish the top, remove the skeleton to reveal the flesh underneath.

6. Chángshòu Miàn

These are also called longevity noodles because they’re longer than usual. They can be eaten fried on a plate as a side dish, or boiled and served in a broth like a soup. The length of the noodle just might symbolize your lifespan! Here’s wishing you extremely long noodles during your Chinese New Year feast!

Do you celebrate Chinese New Year? Which of these dishes is your favorite? Are there any you haven’t yet tried?

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About Carmen Sognonvi

Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel and lifestyle digital influencer at Top Flight Family. Her insights on travel have been featured in Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, Seatrade Cruise News and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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Chinese New Year celebrations are all about setting the tone for what’s to come. Certain foods are said to bring good luck in the New Year. While dishes vary from region to region, these culinary delights in particular are my favorites.

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