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Ten “lucky” foods for Lunar New Year

Food is an important part of the Chinese culture and a lot of significance is assigned to different foods for Lunar New Year.

Here are the top 10 lucky foods that are eaten to usher in the best in the coming year, shared by T&T Supermarket:

1. Dumplings (savoury): Dumplings are made of meat and/or vegetables wrapped in dough.  They symbolize wealth and are believed to bring abundance and prosperity because their shape resembles a Chinese ingot (ancient money).

2. Rice dumplings (sweet): Smaller round dumplings made with glutinous rice flour and served with or without a filling. Fillings can include sweet sesame, peanut, or red bean paste. Its round shape represents reunion and its stickiness symbolizes cohesiveness.

3. Mandarins or tangerines: The roundness of these fruit symbolizes abundant happiness, completeness, and wholeness. Their Chinese names are also homonyms for “gold” and “luck”, respectively.

4. Lettuce: As a homonym for “making money” in Chinese, lettuce symbolizes the fulfillment of wealth in the coming year.

5. Whole fish: The Chinese word for “fish” is a homonym for “abundance,” so eating fish represents having a surplus throughout the year. It’s important that the fish is served with the head and tail intact to ensure a good start and finish and to avoid bad luck throughout the year. Another custom is to not eat the fish completely and keep the leftovers for the next day, to literally carry over the symbolism of the fish into the next year.

6. Whole chicken: Chicken symbolizes prosperity and togetherness of the family. Similar to fish, presenting a whole chicken with its head, tail, and feet symbolizes completeness.

7. Melon seeds: These snacks symbolize fertility for those who eat them.

8. Fried sesame balls: The round shape and golden colour of these snacks are considered lucky, and the fact that they swell as they are fried and increase several times in size is a happy metaphor for a small venture growing and bringing back a large return. Sesame balls are traditionally filled with sweet red bean paste.

9. Deep fried pastry with sesame: This is a traditional New Year snack that implies happy life for the whole family. Its name in Chinese literally translates as “smiling mouth,” which symbolizes the happiness it will bring to the family.

10. Rice cakes (sweet) or turnip cakes (savoury): Sweet rice cakes are made of glutinous rice flour, symbolizing cohesiveness, and brown candy, which represents the sweetness of life. The Chinese name of rice cakes, “nian gao,” literally means a “higher year” or year of improvement and advancement, so they are believed to symbolize the achievement of new heights in the coming year. Savoury turnip cakes are enjoyed around Lunar New Year as a symbol.

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