Chinese New Year Symbols -- food for happiness, prosperity and health

Auspicious Chinese New Year symbols are an important part of celebrating Spring Festival.

Enjoying “auspicious food” with family and friends ushers in happiness and prosperity for everyone in the new year.

Here’s a list of Chinese New Year symbols for the food and delicacies served during the reunion dinner and Chinese New Year.

  • Hot Pot
  • -- A steaming hot pot (chinese fondue with meat, seafood and vegetables) is a must. Huo3 in hot pot huo3 guo3 火锅 is the same word as huo3 in hong2 huo3 红火 “prosperous and booming”.

  • Fish
  • -- Another must-have dish if you want to experience abundance in the new year. Best served whole

  • Shrimp
  • -- Shrimp xia1 虾 in Mandarin and ha in Cantonese sounds like someone laughing. Eat shrimp for happiness and well-being.

  • Oyster
  • -- Hao2. Sounds like hao3 shi4 好事 which means “good things”. In southern China, it is served with thin rice noodles.

  • Chicken
  • -- Chicken ji1 鸡 sounds like good luck ji2

  • Green vegetables
  • -- For close family ties, serve some greens. qing1 cai4 青菜 sounds like qing1 亲 as in qin1 re 亲热 “close; intimate”Chinese New Year symbols
  • Lettuce
  • – sheng1 cai4. 生菜 Sheng1 生 also means giving birth (to a new year) and cai4 菜 sounds like wealth cai2 财 . Eat lettuce for wealth in the new year.

  • Yellow bean sprouts
  • -- It looks like ru2 yi4 如意, the Chinese scepter, a symbol of nobility and rank

  • Black moss plant
  • – fa1 cai4 发菜. This stringy black plant is a symbol of wealth as it sounds like fa1 cai2 发财“to become wealthy”

  • Dumplings
  • – These look like gold ingots. A favorite in Northern China

  • Noodles
  • – Known as chang2 shou4 mian4 长寿面 longevity noodles

  • Sticky rice cake
  • - nian2 gao1 年糕. Nian2 means year and cake gao1 sounds the same as high gao1 高. So eating this steamed cake made of rice flour and topped with red dates has the meaning of attaining greater prosperity and rank in the new year.

  • Tangerine Oranges
  • – Jin1 ju2 don’t leave home without these golden oranges. The bigger the better.

    Peanuts – Hua1 sheng1 花. A symbol of fertility as sheng1 means giving birth and hua1 means many sons and daughters as in hua1 se4 花色 “variety”.

  • Melon and Seeds
  • – Melon gua1 瓜sounds like child wa1 娃. Melon alludes to having many children. Seed zi3 子 sounds the same as zi3 子“son or children”. The more seeds the better.

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • – Nan2 gua1 南瓜 Nan2 sounds the same as nan2 “male" 男 . Pumpkin seeds stand for many male children, which is highly desired in old China.

  • Sweets
  • – tian2 tian2 mi4 mi4 甜甜蜜蜜 referring “a sweet life” or “a loving relationship” between husband and wife

Back to Chinese New Year symbols and activities