8 Lucky Foods For Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, Chinese New Year Food, Lucky Food for Chinese New Year, Lucky Foods

The Lunar New Year begins this Friday January 31st and will last for 15 days. Chinese people consider this the most important holiday as it's a time for family reunions and sets the stage for new beginnings. To cast away bad energy, homes are thoroughly cleaned and new clothes are purchased. Food which already plays an important role in Chinese culture is especially meaningful during Chinese New Year. The traditional menu is always planned around auspicious symbolism and fortuitous themes. These are eight good luck foods that are typically served in hopes of ensuring good fortune. Eight is considered a very lucky number in our culture. Pronounced "bat" with a soft A, it sounds like the word for prosper which is "fat".

FISH : Recipe
In Chinese, the word for fish is "yu" sounds like abundance. The fish is usually steamed and topped with a simple ginger, scallion and soy sauce mixture. The head and tail should be left on to represent a good year from start to finish. It's considered bad luck to break the bones and leaving some left overs is lucky since it signifies an overflow of abundance.

This Cantonese dish is rich both in taste and meaning. Dried oysters and black moss (hair seaweed) are considered two of the luckiest foods since their name together are "ho see fat choi" which is a homophone for good tidings and prosperity. Mushrooms symbolize the fulfillment of wishes. And lettuce (sang choi) sounds like growing wealth.

Dumplings traditionally represent wealth and financial success since their shape resembles Chinese gold inglots, an ancient form of currency. It's been said that eating more dumplings during the New Year leads to making more money during the year. Sometimes a coin is hidden in one dumpling and whoever finds it will be extra lucky that year.

Chicken or duck is customarily served to symbolize a phoenix which is highly regarded as a bird of wealth. A whole bird connotes family unity, harmony and happiness.

NOODLES : Recipe
Noodles are an age old symbol of longevity in the Chinese culture. Because of that they should be kept as long as possible for a rich and lofty life. To cut them means that you're cutting your life short. There is such a thing as longevity noodles (yi mein) which is a variety of Cantonese egg noodles made from wheat flour that are standard fare at Chinese birthday celebrations. These are also appropriate for CNY.

This sweet glutinous rice cake called "nian gao" literally translates to "higher year" so eating it will lead to growth and achievement bettering the previous year. Their sweetness is meant to sweeten up one's prospects. These are popular gifts during the New Year due to their auspicious meaning.

The name for these is "tangyuan" which resembles the word for reunion. They're served in a sweet soup and can be filled with black sesame paste, red bean paste or peanuts. Their round shape signifies a complete circle of harmony and unity and their sweet flavor symbolizes a sweet life.

This large citrus fruit that is similar to a grapefruit is known as the fruit of reunion. In addition, it's name in Chinese is a homophone for "to have". Consuming it is said to reap good fortune and prosperity. It has a very thick skin and tastes like a sweet grapefruit. People will buy bunches of pomelo leaves and bathe with them on Chinese New Year's Eve as doing so is supposed to dispel bad luck/energy.

This is the year of the Wooden Horse which is characteristically a year of optimism and compassion. Here's to a healthy, happy, prosperous and delicious year!

photo credits: one/two/three/four/five/six/seven/eight/nine


A BRIT GREEK said...

Hey Rowena, hope all is well with you. My family have gone into full-on prep mode food-wise.... Sadly I won't be there to join them so will have to make up big time when I travel to HK next month!
I used to hate black moss - due to the resemblance to hair - lol!


Unknown said...

Thanks so much for this post, I learned so much about Chinese New Year and the food looks amazing! :)

xo Aubree

get carried away said...

that looks so delicious! i'm hungry now.
happy day!


Natalia | Look-A-Porter said...

Wonderful to know more about the right way to celebrate Chinese New Year! and learn more about the meaning of certain dishes. x

The Dainty Dolls House said...

This is wonderful doll, the dishes look amazing, love dumplings :))) xx

Lilli said...

Hi Rowena! I didnt know about this lucky food and the tradition to eat them, they all sounds appetizing. You know, Chinese (as all Asian) is one of my fav kitchen, I'd love to try the cake and the sweet rice balls, yum!:) I recently tasted the pomelo for the first time in my life and truly love it, unfortunately isnt easy to find over here.. Have a lovely day my dear! xo

Jackie Harrison said...

Great Rowena I learn so much it was informative, Interesting and delicious even with the signification like do not eat or break bone of fish and cutting your life short if you cut the noodles. Now I have a better understanding of your special holiday Happy Chinese New Year.

Emmylou said...

I love love love CNY because of the food. My fave is the black moss, which my MIL calls "hair":D My husband's Chinese, so I know what you mean about the feast.

Unknown said...

Oh this post is making me hungry! Wishing you all health happiness & prosperity in the coming year!
xo Mary Jo

Adam said...

Funny to see many culture's idea of lucky foods. In the American south (though it only "works" on new years) it's collard greens, black-eye peas, and green grapes.

MaysaAndSunshine said...

I am so hungry just reading this post. One of the things I miss most since moving here is home cook food during CNY. It was quite a feast. My favorite must be duck with bamboo stewed in chinese five spice and cinnamon sticks. I want to fly home right now.

little luxury list said...

Yum! I was telling my husband it would be fun to make dumplings this weekend (well more fun for him since he'll mostly be consuming them!)
I also saw your guest post today and am determined to watch a few of your picks as well!

Chic 'n Cheap Living

T said...

Mmmm I love each and every single piece of food that you mentioned!!

Tsui @ Fashion Ganache.


I love all of the food, my work celebrates CNY and what a feast it looks like. Thanks for such a fab post doll! xx/Madison

Beautetude said...

Yum looks delicious. Very informative post.

JeannLiew | Luminnej said...

Ooooohhh this is lovely, my friend! Gong Xi Fa Cai to you and your family there.

Unknown said...

this post is good to know other culture, love it!


Paola Lauretano said...

Really interesting... i love your informative and delicious post Rowena!!!!!!!!!!

Maru | Fashiony Fab said...

Very interesting Rowena! Thank you for sharing this!

Jane said...

what an awesome post. in korea we usually have rice cake soup and play a few games, like yut nori. i remember it being such a major holiday as a child.

Unknown said...

wow, looks nice! great
greetings http://www.we-heart-fashion.com

Amy said...

These pictures are enough to make me super hungry right now hahaa..
For Lunar New Year, my Vietnamese family always has vegetarian food. :l Though it's good, I still need my meat!!!

Unknown said...

Happy Chinese New Year! Wish you a great year!<3


MILEX said...


nancy @ adore to adorn said...

this post makes me feel so happy. I'm thrilled to be a part of a culture that celebrates so elaborately. =)

A Very Sweet Blog said...

This was awesome Rowena! I'm going to have fish on CNY! I read about Chinese lucky numbers. I found it to be so interesting. Your culture has always fascinated me. I love learning.

Manhattan Image and Style said...

This looks amazing!! Thank you for sharing!! <3

New Outfit Post: A PoP of Red

trishie said...

Happy Chinese New Year in advance, Rowena. I'll be missing out on reunion dinner tonight so please overeat and stuff yourself silly with these delicious food on my behalf!!

Effortlesslady said...

Happy Chinese New Year, they look colourful!

Unknown said...

The food looks delicious.

Style Without Limits

Cynthia said...

Hope you have a wonderful, prosperous and a healthy new year Rowena. I have celebrated a big dinner with my in-laws already and we ate so much. =)

ftashion said...

Happy New Year to you Rowena! Wishing you good health, prosperity and happiness in this Horse year! hehe I'm so looking forward to my reunion feast tonight. Hope u have a great one too!
Fang Ting

Harija said...

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!!! And everything looks yummy!!

My Lyfe ; My Story
@MyLyfeMyStory ♥ ♥

ShyScout said...

Thank you for teaching us about these good luck foods :] I hope you have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

Unknown said...

oooo this is making me so hungry! Great post xx


Anonymous said...

If you celebrate, then have happy holidays! The food looks delicious.

Leslie said...

Hi Rowena,

I had no idea that there were certain foods that should be served for the purpose of good luck. The fish, rice balls, chicken and dumplings all sound so good. Have fun and hopefully your family will be together.

Lyosha Varezhkina said...

oh yam! I should try that all!

Inside and Outside Blog

ALLIE NYC said...

OMG you just made me super hungry! I have not had breakfast yet.

Allie of ALLIE NYC

Unknown said...

OMG I love this list!! Love dumplings and noodles!! ;)


Kurisu said...

I'm Vietnamese so this list is different from how we do it. We have sweet glutinous rice balls, but they're filled with either mung beans or are just solid. And apparently we eat a lot of pork over the celebration period. I'll agree with the pomelo, though. :)

~ Christine from Invisible Blush

abeautifulzen said...

omgs i love dumplings and noodles (haha so asian) and most importantly the black sesame seed filled glutinous rice balls!!
A Beautiful Zen

Vanessa N said...

Love this post!! Happy Chinese New Year's Eve(?)(Or New Year's, whenever you are reading this!)
Really interesting to see the breaking down/explanation of traditions in this post + link to each recipe!!
Ahhh, huge craving for everything in this post now! BLACK SESAME GLUTINOUS RICE BALLS ARE BEYOND DIVINE!!

j said...

Happy New Year, Rowena! All that food looks delicious and it's so nice to hear the story and significance of each, I only knew a few.

Creating Destiny is a few years old and the one you are thinking of. I started it so I want to finish it but I feel like I haven't seen one I have really loved in a while. I'll probably try Emergency Couple next, I'm glad you are liking it but I hope it gets better. I'm glad you found a female lead you liked in the new We Need Romance, does it have 6.3 billion flashbacks or is it better than the last?

It is nice to be able to hem my own pants but I wish I could get the length right the first time, I always make them too long. At least I know how to redo it!

Coco said...

Dear Rowena,
I read your post about Asian movies over at Kim's, so I just dropped by to thank you for sharing - I will check them out - and wish you a wonderful new year! Much much Love,
Coco et La vie en rose
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Stacey said...

Happy Lunar New Year Rowena!! I love LNY foods, especially the rice cake! It doesn't feel like the new year without eating it - and of course red pockets! :P

Unknown said...

Happy New Year Rowena!
Wishing you good health, luck, prosperity, and happiness! :)

Tarene - typical tarene