2012 is the year of the Dragon. In the Chinese lunar calendar this will be the 4709th year. Food is an intergral part of the 15days long celebration. Friends and family gather on this very important occasion to enjoy many dishes that are known to represent good luck and abundance. This association with food is found in either their name or their shape.
Foods that are symbolic of good luck and often eaten during Chinese New Year include:
Dumplings a.ka. Jiao zi: Chinese dumpling or Jiao zi is the staple course on the Eve of the Chinese spring festival and it is considered superior amongst the foods eaten. They are considered lucky to eat during the holidays because the first banknote of China is called Jiao zi
In the north where wheat is the main crop grown, Jiao zi is made from wheat and in the southern regions where rice is the staple food house wives make recipes of sticky rice flour balls. There is no set recipe for Jiao zi filling. The filling can be anything from vegetable, meat, egg to seafood.
Noodles: Noodles represents longevity therefore it is not broken into chucks before cooking. An old superstition also says that it is bad luck to cut them. This is a holiday where you have an excuse to slurp and make a mess on those long noodles. The noodles are prepared with soup or stir fried.
Spring rolls: Spring rolls have a shape similar to gold bars and it is eaten during the spring festival to symbolise wealth and good fortune.
Fish: The Chinese word for fish is “Yu”. This is a homophone for ‘wish’ and ‘abundance’. The steamed fish is served whole, with the head and tail together symbolising a good beginning and ending of the coming year.
Tangerines and oranges: During the Chinese New Year, tangerines and orange are freely shared. The words for tangerine and orange sounds like luck and wealth and this symbolises abundance.
The Chinese new year is a chance to leave the disputes and bad situation of the previous year behind and start the new year afresh, hence the cleaning up of the their houses and buying of new clothes.
From the association the Chinese makes with food and the various things around them, it is clear that Wealth and abundance is an extensive part of their culture. The red envelopes (Hong bao) give to children and unmarried adults also contains money
Xin nian kuai le is to say Happy New year in Chinese Mandarin but also a very popular and definite wish around the spring festival is Gong Xi Fa Cai. This is a congratutions and prosperity wish but literally means ‘make a lot of money’.
To all my readers, Xin Nian Kuai Le and Gong Xi fa Cai!