10 Lucky Foods for Your Chinese New Year Feast
These lucky Chinese New Year foods are said to help bring good fortune—here's a guide to their symbolic meanings.
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In China and other Asian countries, Lunar New Year is the biggest celebration of the year. In 2022, the holiday starts on February 1 and continues for two weeks, culminating in the Lantern Festival. Each year, the calendar aligns with an animal in the Chinese zodiac. 2022 is the year of the tiger, an animal that signifies strength.
This holiday is connected to the start of the Chinese lunar calendar and is an opportunity to celebrate family and success in the coming year. Like any holiday, Lunar New Year has many traditions. Dragon dances and fireworks displays are essential parts of the celebration—as is food! Discover which recipes are essential for this holiday.
According to ancient legend, the number of dumplings you eat during the Chinese New Year predicts the amount of money you’ll make in the upcoming year (the more, the better). While pork is the most common dumpling filling, you can also opt for shrimp, chicken or vegetables.
When it comes time to cook the dumplings, you can either steam them or pan-fry them. Here’s how to make Chinese dumplings step by step.
Taste of Home
Known as changshou mian (which means “long-life noodles”), these noodles are up to two feet long. (Longevity noodles are also common at birthday celebrations.) According to Chinese tradition, the longer the noodle, the luckier you’ll be. Just be careful not to accidentally break one while you’re cooking—that’s bad luck because it represents a life cut short.
Be sure to serve these if you host a Chinese New Year party!
Tray of Togetherness
Often divided into either six or eight compartments, the round Tray of Togetherness represents peace and family harmony. Fill the tray with an assortment of small treats like dried fruit, nuts or candy, like this strawberry Lucky Candy. You could also include these homemade Chinese Almond Cookies.
Resembling bars of gold, spring rolls are said to bring wealth and good fortune. You can stuff these deep-fried rolls with various fillings, including pork, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, cabbage and assorted other veggies.
Oranges and Other Citrus
Oranges, kumquats, tangerines and pomelos are common Chinese New Year gifts because they’re believed to bring good luck and happiness. The Chinese words for “orange” and “tangerine” closely resemble the words for “luck” and “wealth.” The gold color of these fruits also symbolizes prosperity.
Far from family for this year’s celebrations? You can always send them a gift of oranges.
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Sweet Rice Balls
These sweet rice balls are common during the Chinese New Year for good reason: Their round shape signifies unity. These gooey balls also represent harmony and family togetherness because their name (tang yuan) sounds like the word “reunion” in Chinese (tuan yuan).
The Chinese word for this cake—nian gao—is pronounced exactly like the word for “higher year,” which is what makes this dessert so lucky. The sticky rice flour cake was originally used as an offering during ritual ceremonies. Now, it’s eaten on the first day of the year to bring better health, wealth and happiness.
Eight Treasure Rice
This traditional dish is made with sticky rice and adorned with eight “treasures”—a variety of seeds, nuts and fruits like plums, jackfruit and raisins. Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture, and eating desserts on this holiday represents sweetness for the year ahead.
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These steamed rice flour cakes (fa gao) are known for their split tops. According to tradition, the more segments the top of your cake has, the luckier you’ll be in the new year. Fa gao translates to “prosperity cake,” so it’s no surprise that these treats are popular during the Chinese New Year.