foods and culinary traditions to discover

Are you familiar with Chinese New Year? One of the most important moments for China, when we move into the new year. Let’s find out how the Chinese New Year takes place at the table among typical foods and traditions.

Chinese New Year is one of the most important festivals in China and many other parts of Asia as well as in Worldwide. Celebrated on the first day of the lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year marks a new beginning punctuated by a symbolic animal, which for 2023 is the rabbit. It is seen as a time to pursue new opportunities and reconnect with family and friends. Let’s find out more about this tradition and how the Chinese New Year takes place at the table, between culinary traditions and typical foods.

Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year

What is Chinese New Year and why food is important during the holiday

As the name suggests, Chinese New Year (also called the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year) typically falls between January and March, with the 2023 celebrations taking place on the night of January 22-23. Traditionally, around two weeks before the official date of the festivities, people start decorating their homes with red banners which feature images such as dragons or phoenix birds – both symbols of good luck according to Chinese culture – handwritten lucky words are also hung, which creates an exciting atmosphere that children like very much.

The festivities include many activities: family reunions, feasting on delicious food (especially dumplings as they symbolize wealth), exchanging gifts (usually money placed in red envelopes), seeing processions of dragons dancing through the city streets, setting off firecrackers designed to drive away evil spirits… and much more! For many Asians living abroad who have strong cultural ties back home, this is an important way to keep traditions alive.

Food plays a huge part in any celebration and Chinese New Year is no exception. The dishes served for this special occasion all have deep meaning, indeed they are believed to bring prosperity and good luck for the next year. These dishes symbolize harmony, generosity, health, tenacity and family reunion as they usually come from traditional recipes handed down from generation to generation.

Foods to bring to the table at Chinese New Year

As part of the festivities, traditional Chinese New Year dishes are often served as part of the celebration. Here are some that can be served:

Lucky Fish: Fish is considered a symbol of abundance in Chinese culture, so it is commonly served on special occasions such as New Year’s. Steamed or stir-fried whole fish is often adopted as the main dish at Lunar New Year gatherings, promising auspiciousness for the whole family in the next 12 months.

Nian Gao (also known as “New Year’s cake”). This sweet cake made from sticky rice flour has been eaten at Chinese festivals for centuries for its symbolic association with increasing good fortune in wealth and prosperity every cycle of the Lunar New Year! It’s incredibly versatile: added to soup or broth or stir-fried and fried; requires very little effort yet adds a real pop of flavor to any party!

spring rolls
spring rolls

– Spring rolls. You generally find spring rolls being enjoyed on many occasions all over China, such as wedding ceremonies and festivals like Chinese New Year, where they stand out as one of the absolute favorites! The most popular ones contain pork, mushrooms, garlic chives, carrots (or peanuts!), then all wrapped in a thin egg wrap – just make sure everyone takes turns eating them out of respect for each other’s health!

Gnocchi. There’s no better way to say “Happy New Year” than with dumplings! Cooked on special occasions like this since ancient times in both northern and southern parts of China; these represent wealth coming your way.

– An important Chinese New Year culinary tradition is a dish known as yusheng o yu sheng, which consists of thin strips of fresh raw fish typically dressed with sweet and spicy sauces and various vegetables such as bean sprouts, pickled carrots and cucumbers among others. The name literally translates to “Raw Fish,” but it symbolizes the abundance or prosperity that comes with every bite taken – the more you eat, the greater your wealth!

Chinese steamed dumplings
Chinese steamed dumplings

– Not only rolls but also ravioli. Of all shapes and fillings, Chinese ravioli are always offered on the table and the more you eat, the more the coming year will bring wealth, in fact the shape of the ravioli according to Chinese tradition it resembles a gold and silver ingot which were used as a unit of measurement in ancient times in China.

– Even the chinese noodles they carry with them a precise symbology: they are in fact the symbol of long life, the longer they are eaten and the greater the years you will count of life lived.

The foods listed are just a few and the most important that are prepared and savored during dinner, which can last hours and hours, in fact it seems that the perfect number of dishes during this recurrence both 12like the months of the year and like the animals in Chinese astrology.

More Chinese New Year Dinner Customs: Etiquette and Traditions

You should know that the things to do (and not to do) during the Chinese New Year certainly don’t end here, there are many traditions that the Chinese from all over the world follow during this festive event.

– For example, just like our Christmas, the Chinese New Year is celebrated necessarily with the family and not with friends or acquaintances. Furthermore, one can never show up empty-handed, one must always bring a small gift, whether it is culinary or not.

– They sit at the table elders first, never sit before them as a matter of respect. This argument applies not only to sitting down at the table but also to serving dishes, in fact it must always be the eldest who are served first.

Toast all together: you can never hold back during a toast, you stand up and drink the contents of the glass to the last drop before sitting down again.

There is never a shortage of citrus fruitsthe round shape in fact symbolizes fullness and prosperity.

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