Jan 24, 2020

Kung hei fat choi, depending on when you’ll be reading this!

On the first new moon from Jan. 20 to Feb. 21, the Chinese calendar being a lunisolar one determined by the movement of the moon, we celebrate the Chinese New Year. It’s a holiday that’s inextricable from tradition; the Chinese New Year’s practices are steeped in centuries-old customs that dictate how the rest of the year is going to be. A huge part of this is what you choose to set your dinner table with. Do you prepare yourself for prosperity? For good luck? For wealth? In all those cases, that is set with specific auspicious dishes.

To help you plan, here are dishes you should have on your dinner table (and the folklore behind them) come the new year.


Jiaozi dumplings, the crescent-shaped dumplings with pressed edges, are arguably one of the most important dishes on a Lunar New Year table. These dumplings symbolize wealth as their shape is similar to Chinese ingots, an early form of currency used during imperial China. 


Noodles, specifically the long and thin longevity noodles, symbolize long life. As such, these noodle strands are not supposed to be cut when they’re served for the Chinese New Year. In fact, it’s customary to slurp them down without chewing so they remain intact.

Glutinous Rice Cake (nian gao)

The glutinous rice cakes associated with the holiday are called nian gao. The name sounds similar to the Chinese phrase for “higher year” (or getting a promotion or becoming more prosperous), which is why the sticky sweet snack has become an auspicious snack.


Steamed fish served whole is important. The Mandarin word for fish sounds similar to the word for surplus, which is an indicator of wealth. To ensure that you’ll have an abundance of wealth and food in the coming year, there are rules as to how you should serve and eat fish like it should be the last remaining dish on the table and its leftovers be eaten the next day to symbolize the year’s wealth spilling into the following one.


Like fish, chicken is served whole (head and feet intact) for the Chinese New Year. It’s meant to symbolize rebirth and togetherness.

Round fruits


Round fruits like oranges, tangerines, and pomelos are musts for a Llunar New Year feast because of their color and shape: roundness symbolizes unity, while their golden color is believed to attract wealth. Aside from that, these fruits are considered auspicious because their names are homophones for wealth, luck, and success.


Featured photo by Yuwei Shaw on Unsplash

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Read more:

5 places to feast with family and friends for Chinese New Year

5 temples you can visit to ring in the Chinese New Year

Eat your way through Chinatown for P500 or less

TAGS: auspicious food Chinese New Year lunar new year nolisoli.ph