All elements of Chinese New Year, especially the cuisine, point to prosperity and luck. Celebrations were born out of a fear of the Nian, a mythical beast that would come to villages on the first day of the new year and eat livestock, crops, and even small children. To distract the beast, villagers would place food outside their doors and hang red lanterns and scrolls on windows and doors, as the bright color was believed to frighten the creature.
Today, Chinese New Year is a time for fresh starts and provides the opportunity to reunite with family, give thanks, and wish loved ones the best in the coming year. A highlight of the 15-day festival takes place on New Year’s Eve, when families gather to share a meal filled with foods that symbolize fortune, prosperity, and longevity. Here are a few examples.
Here are four more lucky foods to incorporate into your New Year’s celebration:
Fortune Squid Blossom A symbol of luck in Chinese culture, the flower blossom represents affluence and nobility.
Rice Cake Soup This traditional (and very simple to make) soup is eaten on New Year’s Day and can even be enjoyed for breakfast.
Eight Treasure Rice Pudding This sweet treat is decorated with eight different types of dried fruits and goodies, as the number eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture. It sounds similar to the word for rich.
Steamed Red Snapper It’s customary to serve fish at the end of a New Year’s Eve meal. Like this red snapper, the fish that is served at New Year’s is brought to the table with its head and tail still attached to ensure a good start and finish to the year ahead.