Did you know, the word "fish" (鱼 Yú /yoo/) sounds like 'surplus' in Chinese? Fish is pretty much a staple menu, served during the Reunion Dinner for Chinese New Year! The fish should be the last dish left with some left over, as this is an auspicious symbol for there being surpluses every year. So don’t forget to leave some over, and you’ll have an abundance of prosperity coming your way in the new year!
2. Chinese Dumplings - Wealth
Fun fact- the history of dumplings dates back as far as 1,800 years ago! Also a new year staple, this lucky food is often eaten during reunion dinners as a sign of prosperity. These dumplings are made to resemble inglots, and legend has it that the more dumplings you eat, the more money you can make in the new year! You know which dish to aim for this time ‘round!
3. Glutinous Rice Cakes
Glutinous rice cake or Nián Gāo, is also another lucky food eaten on Chinese New Year. In Chinese, glutinous rice cake sounds similar to "getting higher year-on-by year". This signifies that each year, you are going to be more prosperous in terms of business and improvement in your life. The main ingredients of Niángāo are of course, the sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, red dates and also lotus leaves!
4. Whole Chicken - Togetherness
Having the Reunion dinner together with loved ones resembles life’s greatest gifts- love and unity! The whole chicken is a visual signifier of unity among the family, and serving the whole chicken symbolizes the reunion of loved ones! Plus, is there really anything better than sharing chicken?
5. Noodles - Longevity
Another staple for Reunion dinners, noodles! It represents longevity and they’re usually super long noodles served with a gravy-like sauce. It is believed that the longer the noodles, the longer the life you’ll live! The noodles are also said to be eaten in a particular way where it should be eaten bit by bit without breaking it into pieces! We wouldn’t want that now would we?
6. Prawn - Happiness
Prawns resemble happiness- this is because prawn in Cantonese is pronounced “Har”, similar to the sound of laughter! That’s why eating prawns is believed to bring happiness to the family for the whole year. So the more you eat, the more happiness you’ll get! Just don’t hog the whole plate and don’t forget to share!
7. Pen Cai - Prosperity & Wealth
Pen cai is originally from Hong Kong and it literally means “vegetables in a basin”! This dish consists of layers of braised vegetables in a very fragrant gravy. It symbolises prosperity and abundance. Apparently, there is a rule where you eat the dish from the top to bottom layer and usually the best is saved for last! We’re salivating just thinking about it!
8. Yee Sang - Good Luck, Health, Prosperity, and All Things Auspicious!
Last but not least, we have the Yee Sang! We all know that it’s mandatory to toss the Yee Sang sky high, but the meaning behind this super fun dish is that all the ingredients symbolises different meanings. The significance of the tossing is to wish for an abundance of luck and happiness for everyone! So come on, grab your chopsticks and make a beautiful mess this Chinese New Year!
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