A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about symbolic foods that are eaten around the world for the New Year.
There are symbolic foods that are eaten for the Chinese New Year too. This year, the Chinese New Year celebrations start on February 7th. (It will be the year of the Rat!)
Dumplings are one customary food that’s eaten for the New Year. One reason is that they resemble the old gold money used in China. Thus, dumplings symbolize the hope for prosperity in the coming year. Usually the dumplings are filled with meat.
In parts of Northern China, they even insert a coin into a couple of dumplings. It you’re lucky enough to be served one of those, it’s thought you’ll acquire even more wealth!
Lin wrote to me about the custom in Tianjin, a city that’s southeast of the capital of Beijing, China:
As the Chinese New Year is coming up, there’s something interesting to note here about New Year’s food. In Tianjin, China, people will make vegetarian dumplings, apart from the meat ones for the New Year’s Eve. They eat the vegetarian ones especially at midnight, usually with the fireworks going outside the windows. The vegetarian dumplings signify a coming year which is very clean, with no accidents, no serious affairs, etc.
“Su”, as vegetarian, implies something simple, calm.
The contrary is “Se” as in colour/lust, or “Rou” as in meat/flesh/therefore lust.
Interestingly, in other parts of China this habit is not often observed. Not even in Beijing, as far as I can determine, though it’s just 120 kilometers away.
I mentioned this custom to Ray Lee, who was born in Hong Kong. Ray said:
Yeah, that’s interesting. I’ve never heard of it. But then, China is a big country with a lot of different local customs. I am sure there are a lot I haven’t heard of. I remember we would eat a certain kind of vegetable around the New Year simply because its name sounded like “getting rich”. The name of the vegetable is “Fat Choy” (it’s a long black sea moss), which as you may recall sounds just like the “fat choy” in “kung hey fat choy”!
“Kung Hey Fat Choy”, means “Congratulations and Be Prosperous”. It’s something that people say to each other in Cantonese during the Chinese New Year.
To all of you celebrating the Chinese New Year, “Kung Hey Fat Choy”!
Here’s a post I wrote last year about how Yuan Xiao is eaten for the Chinese New Year.
Feel free to comment below about foods you eat for the Chinese New Year!
This article was posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008 at 5:47 pm and is filed under Cantonese, China, Chinese New Year, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Holidays Around the World, Hong Kong, Languages, Mama Lisa, New Years. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
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