Lunar New Year Article -
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Lunar New Year

Get out your broom and sweep away the past: the Year of the Goat begins February 19.

You'll know that the party has officially begun when you see people dressed in red and hear fireworks exploding in the street--both intended to scare off a legendary man-eating beast, Nian.

While many cultures around the world celebrate New Year's as a time of renewal, the Lunar New Year means that and much more. It is a time to gather with family, honor ancestors and celebrate with a big banquet that symbolizes prosperity in the New Year.

Food Symbolism

Most of the dishes served during Lunar New Year (also known as Spring Festival) are symbolic of something positive and hopeful.

  • Chicken and fish, for example, symbolize happiness and prosperity--especially when served whole.
  • Dishes made with oranges represent wealth and good fortune because they are China's most plentiful fruit.
  • Noodles represent longevity: therefore, they should never be cut!
  • Duck symbolizes fidelity, while eggs signify fertility.
  • Bean curd or tofu, however, is avoided because its white color suggests death and misfortune.

Dishes are also chosen based on homonyms--words that either are spelled the same or sound the same as other words. Fish (yu) is served because it sounds similar to the Chinese word for plenty; whole fish represents abundance. Turnips are cooked because their name (cai tou) also means "good luck."

Another popular Lunar New Year dish is jiaozi, dumplings boiled in water. In some areas of China, coins are placed in the center of jiaozi. Whoever bites into one of these dumplings will have an exceptionally lucky year.

Try some of these lucky Chinese dishes for a prosperous year to come:

Feb. 8, 2010 9:15 am
My daughter like chineese food but I have to avoid fish and seafood but the chicken and cookes and candy and cake look real good.
Feb. 10, 2010 9:41 am
LeVecco's in Reno, Nevada has the best Risotto I have ever tasted. There chef makes it for me to take to the office for lunch. It is truly a grand dish.
Jan. 28, 2011 4:36 pm
I'm Chinese and these recipes include none of the traditional dishes. It's a good attempt and the hononyms are correct. One of my favorite dishes is pigs feet with a arrowhead. Good try. C.L. must be feeling superior bc she just graduated from somewhere. She's not the first and won't be the last
Jan. 28, 2011 5:30 pm
I love to order prawns with baby bok choy at Chinese restaurants. Sometimes there are scallops with the dish. The sauce is clear.Any recipes for that?
Jan. 29, 2011 9:53 am
Chinese food is my all-time favorite type of cuisine...they never use cheese in anything! A Chinese restaurant is the only restaurant where I can order with wild abandon...and not have to worry about cheeses on anything! These recipes rock...cannot wait to try them! Gung Hay Fat Choy!!!!
Jan. 29, 2011 10:05 am
Try the Pork Dumplings. They are fantastic. Boiled or steamed it's great!
Jan. 30, 2011 7:56 pm
I'm actually in Shanghai, China right now, so if any one will post some tradional Chinese recipes that would be great. The recipes that have ingredients that are seem strange are the best for me. Thanks
Jan. 31, 2011 8:41 am
Shing yi gua ler...not sure how to spell it at all, but it says, "Happy New Year" in Mandarin. Since the above dinner suggestions are not typically Chinese, could someone please give some authentic ones? I might have missed some, as the comments seemed to have changed focus...
Jan. 31, 2011 10:16 am
i love this! i'll be passing this page around!
Jan. 31, 2011 11:53 am
I found some more traditional recipes on some of the other Allrecipes sites - <
Feb. 2, 2011 1:27 pm
This is for people who have been born in the year of the rabbit: 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999 People born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. They are fond of gossip but are tactful and generally kind. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. They are clever at business and being conscientious, never back out of a contract. They would make good gamblers for they have the uncanny gift of choosing the right thing. However, they seldom gamble, as they are conservative and wise. They are most compatible with those born in the years of the Sheep, Pig, and Dog.
Jan. 22, 2012 3:46 pm
You should update this with every new year! :) That would be fun!
Feb. 10, 2013 11:46 am
I am not sure why my post came out looking like gibberish! I want to repost your article on:

Polly Motzko
Feb. 11, 2013 8:12 am
It'd be great if we could a bunch of allrecipie folks on who are actually Chinese in ethnicity so we can share our own family recipies and traditions. I think it's lovely that others are trying out our culture. However, it's probably best if we shared it with you rather than you present it with your own perspective. A visit or teaching there for a couple years definitely doesn't make one someone who has been TRULY submerged. One has to BE Chinese to truly understand. Let us share it with you! It's such a large country!!!
Feb. 11, 2014 6:23 am
KChews....a wonderful idea...I would truly be interested in any traditional recipes of various areas in China. a side note*I was born in the year of the Snake.
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