Chinese New Year is all about getting rid of bad spirits and attracting luck into our lives as we usher in another year of prosperity. Though there are many Chinese beliefs that we follow as Filipinos, many of us still look for tips and tricks on what to do during this celebration. Here are some of the food you might want to prepare for a lucky year ahead!
Food to Prepare for a Lucky Chinese New Year
Yi Mein or Longevity Noodles
This is one of the most common things Filipinos prepare for different occasions. Noodles or ‘pancit’ is a staple at every celebration in the Philippines. With a strong Chinese influence in Filipino culture, many say that serving this dish will result in long life.
Though traditional Yi Mein or longevity noodles are made out of wheat flour, some serve different substitutes depending on their taste. The ingredients that the noodles have also represent other things, such as eggs for a big healthy family, lobster for endless money, roast pig for peace, and shrimp for fortune and wealth.
Your favorite dumplings can be served on the dinner table to symbolize sending away the old and welcoming the new. In Chinese, the dumplings are called jiǎo zi, which literally means exchange and midnight hours. Though there are many kinds of dumplings, the ones you should serve during Chinese New Year are those that are shaped like a boat.
Many Chinese families also make dumplings together as a bonding ritual and put a random coin in a batch. Whoever gets the coin is said to receive great luck in the incoming year.
This ‘handaan’ special symbolizes wealth in Chinese because they look like gold bars. This symbol of prosperity can sometimes have different fillings and can depend on your guest’s preferences.
Though traditional spring rolls have ground pork, Chinese cabbage, shiitake and carrots in them; you can also create your own recipe and add chicken into it or even turn it into a dessert with a tikoy filling topped with ice cream.
If you are on a diet or don’t want to munch on too much food, then steamed fish could be your new best friend. According to Chinese tradition, steamed fish is a symbol for having surplus or excess by the end of the year.
Aside from serving the fish, it how it is eaten is also pretty important. Though big fish are served during celebrations, it is said that only the middle part should be eaten. The head and the tail can only be consumed at the beginning of the year. The head should be placed towards the distinguished guests or the elderly as a sign of respect. He/she should also be the first one to eat and then, at the end of the meal, he/she should drink with the other person who has the tail of the fish facing them.
Another traditional food that is served during Chinese New Year is steamed chicken. Serving a whole chicken during Chinese New Year is a symbol for family; it represents reunion and rebirth.
Traditionally, the chicken is steamed whole along with its head and claws. It is said that the heads of the family or those who are working should eat the chicken feet to help them grasp onto wealth, while eating the chicken wings will help you fly higher or achieve your dreams.
Not commonly known by everyone, it is also important to serve vegetables during Chinese New Year.
Not just a healthy choice, different vegetables mean different things. Seaweeds symbolize wealth and fortune, while lotus seeds are blessings for many children and healthy family. Leeks, on the other hand, mean everlasting, while mushrooms are for blessings and fortune.
Tikoy / Glutinous Rice Cake
A crowd favorite, tikoy is something that every family should have during Chinese New Year. Called Nian gao in Chinese, it means tall/high. This food represents a wish of the incoming year being more successful and/or higher. If you are looking for tikoy, this video can help you find out where to get some:
There are different ways to eat tikoy, as well, as seen in the video below:
Aside from being a great centerpiece, fruits are supposed to bring in good luck during Chinese New Year. Majority of the fruits served during CNY are the ones that are round and in golden hues to symbolize fullness and wealth.
The Chinese term for orange sounds like the Chinese word for success! For continuing prosperity, you can serve pomelo, too. What does your family typically eat during Chinese New Year? Share more tips with us!