Chinese New Year food is a big part of any new year celebration. In fact, the food is nothing less than central to the festivities. The Chinese New Year is similar to the Western one, but the differences are key. It is considered to be one of the most important holidays in the Chinese culture. Alternative names for it include the Spring Festival and the Lunar New Year. According to the Chinese calendar, the New Year takes place not on the first day of the first month of the year, as in the Western culture, but of the first lunar month. It lasts for about two weeks.
There is a wealth of opportunity to eat delicious and symbolic food during this celebration. It is served for a two week period. From the first day of the first lunar month, the celebration lasts until the fifteenth day of the month. Some people have the food catered, some people make it themselves, but the food served is always strongly symbolic.
There are a few foods that actually have a symbolic nature to them. For instance, the whole chicken can mean family togetherness, and this type of food given during the Chinese New Year can mean that the family will be together and happy throughout the entire year.
Noodles are another food traditionally found during Chinese New Year’s celebrations. In fact, they are practically required. In the Chinese culture, noodles symbolize a long, long life. For that reason, certain superstitions say they should not be cut. To do so would bring bad luck or worse. The inclusion of clams and Spring rolls are used to bring luck in matters of wealth. Clams are said to look a lot like bouillon. Spring rolls represent wealth because they look a bit like bars of gold.
In certain cases, some foods are served simply because the word for them sounds like a word for something else. If the name of a food sounds anything like the words for luck, fortune, ambition, abundance, et cetera, they will most likely be served during the celebration. For instance, many citrus fruits are included for this reason.
Fish is symbolic in several ways, and thus is frequently served. One reason is because the word for it is “yu.” This word resembles the terms for “wish” and “abundance.” Both of those are good things to have on your side in the new year. Symbolically, serving the fish whole is good luck as well. When the head and tail are still attached, then the fish is a symbol for a good beginning and a good ending in the year ahead.