Chatelaine Kitchen

Symbolic foods for Chinese New Year

The food served during Chinese New Year is symbolic for luck, longevity and prosperity.

Growing up in Asia meant that I was privy to cultural celebrations such as Chinese New Year. This year, February 3 marks the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. As with many celebrations, food plays a major role during this holiday. Certain foods are served at a Chinese New Year dinner to symbolize prosperity, longevity and luck.

Here are some of the traditional foods that you might find at a Chinese New Year celebration:

Dumplings are considered lucky because of their historical resemblance to Chinese currency. Spring rolls also symbolize wealth as they resemble gold bars. Try our healthy Shrimp and Fresh Mint Salad Rolls.

Fish in Chinese sounds like the word for both wish and abundance. For added symbolism, the fish is served whole, with head and tail attached to mark the end of a good year and the beginning of a new one.

Lettuce wraps are also associated with wealth. It is commonly served because the Chinese word for lettuce sounds like ‘rising fortune.’ Try our delicious Shrimp and Pork Mini-Burgers.

Tangerines, oranges and pomelos (a citrus fruit related to grapefruit) sound like luck, wealth and abundance, respectively.

Noodles represent a long life. Since the length of noodles refers to longevity, it is superstitious to cut your noodles! Try our Singapore Noodles.

Ring in the Year of the Rabbit in your local Chinatown or at a public event:

Chinese New Year Extravaganza, Royal Ontario Museum
100 Queen’s Park – Toronto, Ontario
Sunday, Jan 30, 2011
11a – 4pm
Admission: Free with admission to ROM

Chinese New Year Celebrations, Scarborough Town Centre
300 Borough Drive
Scarborough, Ontario
Saturday, Jan 29 – Sunday, Jan 30, 2011
Admission: Free

London Chinese Festival, Covent Garden Market
130 King Street – London, Ontario
Saturday, Feb 19, 2011
10am – 6pm
Admission: Free

Chinese New Year Celebration, Aberdeen Centre
4151 Hazelbridge Way – Richmond, BC
Friday, Jan 28 – Sunday, Feb 13, 2011 Admission: Free