1st February marks the start of the Year of The Tiger under the Chinese lunisolar calendar. This is known as the Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year or Spring Festival and celebrations will typically last for 16 days, from the New Year’s Eve up until the Lantern Festival (this year is the 15th February). It is a celebration that over 2 billion people get involved in all over the world.

Over this period, the festivities are celebrated with family reunions, parades, lanterns, feasts and more. Each day will see different food and drink items consumed, including the variety of lucky foods which are believed to bring good luck for the coming year. Not only do the dishes themselves matter, but also the preparation, and ways of serving and eating mean a lot.

There are many different common Chinese New Year foods, but here is a round up some of the essential ones and what they do:

  • Fish – Increase in prosperity:

The word fish in Chinese sounds like surplus and symbolises abundance. The most famous recipe for Chinese New Year is Steamed fish. People may choose a different type of fish depending on what it symbolizes (e.g., Crucian Carp for good luck, Chinese Mud Carp for good fortune or Catfish for a surplus in the year).

  • Dumplings – wealth

Another real traditional dish on Chinese New Year are dumplings. There a few things that will make a dumpling lucky, including, a good number of pleats and being arranged in lines instead of circles. Sometimes a white thread or copper coin is put inside the dumpling and the one who eats it will possess longevity or become wealthy.

  • Spring rolls – wealth

Spring rolls are said to bring wealth and good fortune as they are shaped like bars of gold. They are also used in the spring festival to mark the end of winter and to welcome a lively spring.

  • Good fortune fruit – fullness and wealth

Good fortune fruit typically include fruits such as tangerines and oranges. The fruits selected are round and ‘golden’ in colour, which symbolizes fullness and wealth. In Chinese, the word Orange also sounds the same as the word for ‘Success’.

  • Tangyuan (sweet rice balls) – Family Togetherness

Another main dish in the Lantern Festival and Spring Festival is the Sweet Rice Balls. The pronunciation and round shape of tangyuan are associated with reunion and being together.

  • Longevity Noodles – happiness and longevity

As suggested by the name, these symbolise longevity. Their length and unsevered preparation are supposed to be symbolic of the eater’s life.

  • Niangao – a higher income or higher position

This is also called Glutinous Rice Cake, which in Chinese means getting higher year-on-year. To them, this means the higher you are, the more prosperous your business is a general improvement in life.

There are plenty of other foods that can be eaten in celebrations as lucky foods including chicken for good luck, pork for a prosperous life, celery for hardwork, garlic for long and everlasting days and shrimp for laughing out loud (the way you say shrimp in Chinese looks like you are saying ‘hahaha’).

Is the Year of The Tiger your year? It means if you were born in the Year of The Tiger, you share their characteristics:

  • Vigour and ambition
  • Daring and courage
  • Enthusiasm and generosity
  • Self-confidence
  • A sense of justice and a commitment to help others for the greater good

Will you be celebrating Chinese New Year? Whether it is time you spend with your family, going to the parades and celebrations in Chinatown or have some of your own traditions, let us know what you get up to! Tag us @jellybeanagency on Twitter and Instagram.

Happy Chinese New Year!