February 18th is the first day of Chinese new year in 2007. The actual date is different every year because Chinese traditions follow a different calendar than we do. Each new year in China is represented by a particular animal which symbolizes certain qualities of those who are born in that year. This is the year of the Pig, or as some would say the Boar, and if you are considering having children, this is the year to do it! It is said that those who are born this year will be very loving, honest, happy, and trustworthy. Good luck to all of you who are planning a birth, including my wonderful sister who is expecting this year!
With Chinese new year comes wonderful traditions, my favorite of course being the traditional food! When I was young we would hold our celebration at my Chinese grandparent’s house on new year’s eve. I remember the red ornamental décor. There were good luck symbols above the doors and other Chinese characters hung around the house. My fondest memory of course was the wonderful smell of food that would come streaming out of my grandmother’s kitchen! She would make several dishes from sweet and sour shrimp to dumplings. Family members would come over with even more dishes. There would be noodles, fish, chicken, and one of my unique favorites, squid!
All of this wonderful food is meant to symbolize happiness, wealth, and prosperity in the new year. There are so many different dishes that can be made for this holiday. Below is just a list of some of the Chinese new year’s dishes and what they symbolize. Choose a few to serve at your own Chinese new year’s party and enjoy!
- Jiaozi - These are wonderfully steamed dumplings which are usually served on new years eve. They represent wealth.
- Buddha’s Delight - This is a vegetarian dish which is served on the first day of the new year. There are so many wonderful ingredients in this dish and they all represent good luck and fortune. If you are going to make this dish for the new year do not add fresh tofu. Fresh tofu symbolizes misfortune and death.
- Chicken lettuce wraps - These can be served at any time and represent prosperity.
- Noodles - These can be served at any time and represent longevity. Be sure not to cut them. It is a sign of bad luck if they are cut.
- Whole fish - Make sure to keep the head and tail in tact to represent abundance, togetherness, prosperity.
- Chicken - Again keep the head, tail and feet to represent completeness.
- Peking duck - This dish is a bit difficult to prepare, but it represents fidelity.
- Sweet and sour pork - This wonderful dish represents abundance of grandchildren.
- Clam and scallop dishes - These dishes represent wealth and prosperity.
- Spicy dishes - Such as Kung Pao chicken, cleanse sins and problems.
- Oyster dishes - These dishes represent good fortune.
- Egg and spring rolls- These are wonderful and represent wealth.
- Lychee nuts - These can be served in a bowl or tray and set out with other fruit and nuts. They represent close family ties.
- Oranges - These represent wealth.
- Peanuts - This wonderful and salty snack represent a long life.
- Tangerines - As with oranges, these are served for luck.
- Sweet red bean dessert soup - I remember my grandmother drinking this towards the end of the night. It is meant to symbolize togetherness.
- Sweet sesame balls - These are wonderful and represent prosperity.