When people think of February holidays they normally think of chocolates, heart shaped boxes, and all the festivities associated with Valentines Day. This year, we would like to introduce you to another holiday occupying the second month of the year, Chinese New Year! Celebrated February 19 this year, Chinese New Year marks the transition from the Year of the Horse to the Year of the Sheep. In China, this day is full of bright colors, fun dancing, and best of all, food! Many of the foods eaten at the New Year in China symbolize, a lucky and happy year. Here is a list of some foods you can use to ring in the New Year!
- Fish: in the Chinese language, the word for “fish” sounds similar to “surplus”. A surplus of things is considered lucky and indicates that you have been able to save money throughout the year, making fish a staple for ringing in the new year. Fish is typically served whole, with the head and tail on, to make sure your upcoming year will have a good start and finish.
- Dumplings: (jiaozi): these can be prepared with many different fillings, mainly pork or shrimp. Dumplings with cabbage and radish are believed to promote beautiful skin and make a person gentle. Many dumplings are made into round shapes that resemble coins to represent wealth and prosperity.
- Noodles: The longer the noodle, the longer the life! Noodles symbolize longevity, so those eaten on Chinese New Year are even longer than normal. While eating your noodles, try not to cut or break them so that they keep their length! Slurping up noodles is appropriate in Chinese culture.
- Tangerines and oranges: These are considered to be lucky for similar reasons to fish – “orange” and “success” are similar words in Chinese. Tangerines represent wealth and prosperity, while oranges symbolize luck. These fruits are used as decorations during New Year’s celebrations.
- Pomegranates: This fruit is considered to be very lucky due to its red color (all things red are lucky in Chinese culture), and due to its large number of seeds, can also represent fertility.
- Dessert: A very wide variety of desserts are served at Chinese New Year, since they are considered to make your life sweeter. Custard tartlets and flaky Chinese cookies are popular favorites, but feel free to interpret this one in any way you want!
Amy Lee is a junior at Missouri State University majoring in dietetics. She plans to become a registered dietitian specializing in pediatric nutrition with an emphasis on public health.
Photo Credit: Samantha Gitlin