Why do the Chinese eat dumplings, long noodles, spring rolls, fish and chicken on New Year’s Eve?
Why is colour coordination of the dishes at Chinese New Year so important?
Did you know colour is very important when serving the Chinese New Year meal? White is considered bad luck in some parts of China while in others it can mean purity. So you may find tofu served in some parts of China while elsewhere it would be prohibited. Red, green or orange foods are considered lucky and you may find lots of red melons, oranges and tangerines served on the table or given as a gift.
Fish is the favourite dish and is served at the end of the meal. Fish in the Chinese language means you will have more than what is needed and Chinese people love to have more left at the end of the year than to be in short supply. While serving fish it’s important to position the head towards the elders or important guests, and the rest of the family can enjoy it only after the head is finished!
One of the very interesting parts of Chinese New Year food preparation is making dumplings when the whole family is supposed to take part. One member of the family conceals a coin and the person who finds it is considered lucky. This reminds me of the Russian Orthodox Christmas where coin is concealed in the bread which is made on the day and eaten during the Christmas lunch after prayers.
The myth is that the more dumplings you eat, the more money you will make in the year.
Eating long noodles is a good omen as it represents a long life. You must make sure not to break the noodles during the meal as it’s bad luck! This can be very difficult if you re a foreigner and eating with chopsticks!
Along with fish, chicken is a very popular dish as it represents unity, family and rebirth. The preparation of the chicken is very simple – you boil or steam it. But make sure you do the whole chicken including the feet and head. If you don’t – superstation says you may break the family unity!
Spring rolls are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival (14 days after New Year). Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the spring planting season and is a great time to clean stored vegetables and make space for the new, fresh ones. To increase their luck, Chinese tend to fill up the spring rolls with bamboo shoots for strength, black moss to attract wealth and lotus seeds for fertility!
No meal in China is complete without rice! For the Chinese New Year the tradition is to eat Glutinous Rice Cake which means a higher income, and sweet rice balls which mean family togetherness.
Myths and superstitions have always played an important role Chinese life, and plenty of traditions exist to make sure your luck doesn’t run dry. Especially during the Chinese New Year!
Gong Xi Fa Cai / Gong Hey Fat Choy!