It’s Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rat is here.

Chinese New Year celebrations usually last for around two weeks, and this year they’ll be around from Saturday 25th January ’til Saturday 8th February, when the Lantern Festival falls. Along with all the celebrations, food’s a huge part of Chinese New Year. And there are seven lucky foods for Chinese New Year that are eaten traditionally. Here’s a little background on the famous seven…

Tangyuan for Family Togetherness

Made up of glutinous rice flour and water, tangyuan is the main food for the Lantern Festival. Formed into balls, they’re cooked and then served in boiling water, like a soup.

Representing family and togetherness, tangyuan is eaten all year round at family celebrations.

Spring rolls for Wealth

Traditionally eaten during Spring Festival, spring rolls are common in the East. I’m sure we all know what the classic dish is, but in case not, spring rolls are made up of veg, meat or a sweet filling, wrapped in light dough and fried.

Coming out crispy and golden, there’s a lucky saying reserved for eating spring rolls, “Hwung-Jin Wan-Lyang”, which translates to “A ton of gold”. And yep, that explains the symbol of wealth.

Dumplings for Wealth

They’re traditionally eaten all day, every day. Sounds like heaven to us but most people have steered away from the dumpling-heavy New Year diet, just eating them at their New Year’s Eve dinner or for breakfast. And they’re commonly eaten in the north, so people in the south generally favour spring rolls and tangyuan.

The legend goes that the more dumplings you eat, the more money you’ll make once the New Year arrives. That’s maths we like.

Fish for Prosperity

One of the most famous dishes is steamed fish. Chinese people believe if they’ve managed to save money at the end of the year, then they’ll make even more the next. So, it’s tradition to leave some fish on your plate.

And there’s thought behind where the fish sits on the table too. The head always faces the eldest guests out of respect. And other guests can only eat once they have.

Niangao for Higher Income or Position

With a name that sounds like “getting higher year-on-year” in Chinese, it’s believed that eating this gooey rice dessert brings a more prosperous year. People interpret this as anything from work promotions, better academic results, business increases or children’s height.

The main ingredients you’ll find in niangao are sticky, sugar, chestnuts, lotus leaves and Chinese dates. And you can steam, fry it or eat it cold.

Noodles for Longevity

These aren’t just any normal noodles. No, no. They’re extra-long noodles. Uncut to represent a long life and happiness, they can reach a whopping two-feet.

Served in the broth they’re boiled in or fried on a plate, these noodles aren’t exclusive to New Year and often make an appearance at birthdays.

Fruit for Fullness and Wealth

Chosen for their shades of gold that symbolise fullness and wealth, oranges, kumquats, tangerines and pomelos are the seventh and final Chinese New Year lucky food eaten a lot suring the celebrations. They’re exchanged as gifts as well as being displayed around people’s homes for maximum lucky points.

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