Chinese New Year Food


Chinese Culture > Chinese New Year > Chinese New Year Food

Probably more food is consumed during the Chinese New Year celebrations than any other time of the year. Vast amounts of traditional food is prepared for family and friends, as well as those close to us who have died.

On New Years Day, the Chinese family will eat a vegetarian dish called jai. Although the various ingredients in jai are root vegetables or fibrous vegetables, many people attribute various superstitious aspects to them:

Other foods include a whole fish, to represent togetherness and abundance, and a chicken for prosperity. The chicken must be presented with a head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness. Noodles should be uncut, as they represent long life. In south China, the favorite and most typical dishes were nian gao, sweet steamed glutinous rice pudding and zong zi (glutinous rice wrapped up in reed leaves), another popular delicacy. In the north, steamed-wheat bread (man tou) and small meat dumplings were the preferred food. The tremendous amount of food prepared at this time was meant to symbolize abundance and wealth for the household.

A reunion dinner is held on Chinese New Year's Eve where members of the family, near and far, get together for celebration. The Chinese New Year's Eve dinner is very large and traditionally includes foods like chicken. Fish is included, but not eaten up completely (and the remaining stored overnight), as the Chinese phrase 年年有魚/餘; (nin nin yo y, or "every year there is fish/leftover") is a homophone for phrases which could mean "be blessed every year" or "have profit every year", since "y" is also the pronunciation for "profit". A type of black hair-like algae, pronounced "fat choy" in Cantonese, is also featured in many dishes since its name sounds similar to "prosperity". Hakka will serve "kiu nyuk" 扣肉 and "ngiong tiu fu" 釀豆腐. Because the things sound alike, the belief is that having one will lead to the other, like the old child's aphorism "step on a crack, break your mother's back".

Chinese New Year Food


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