Traditional Chinese New Year Foods

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. It is a time for family gatherings, gift giving, and most importantly, indulging in delicious traditional Chinese New Year foods. These dishes are believed to bring good luck, health, and prosperity for the upcoming year. Here are some common Chinese New Year foods that you should try.

1. Dumplings

Dumplings are a staple food during the Chinese New Year celebrations. They symbolize wealth and prosperity because of their shape that resembles a gold ingot. Dumplings can be filled with various ingredients such as minced pork, shrimp, vegetables, and even sweet fillings like red bean paste.

2. Nian Gao (Sticky Rice Cake)

Nian Gao is a traditional Chinese New Year cake made of glutinous rice flour and sugar. It is usually cut into small slices and fried, pan-fried or steamed. The pronunciation of “Nian Gao” in Mandarin sounds like “year high” which represents the wish for higher achievements and growth in the upcoming year.

3. Spring Rolls

Spring rolls are another classic festive dish for the Chinese New Year. They are typically filled with vegetables, meat, and sometimes seafood, then rolled and fried until crispy. Spring rolls are a symbol of wealth because they resemble gold bars and they are believed to bring good fortune for the upcoming year.

4. Fish

In Chinese culture, fish is a must-have dish for Chinese New Year because the pronunciation of “fish” in Mandarin sounds like “surplus.” As such, it symbolizes abundance and prosperity. A whole fish is usually served with the head and tail intact to represent a good beginning and end.

5. Tang Yuan (Sweet Glutinous Rice Balls)

Tang Yuan is a dessert made of glutinous rice flour and filled with sweet fillings like sesame, peanut, or red bean paste. The round shape of the tang yuan symbolizes family unity and togetherness. It is usually served in a hot soup, symbolizing reunion and harmony.


These are just a few examples of the traditional Chinese New Year foods. Each dish carries its own unique symbolism and meaning, making them integral parts of the Chinese New Year celebration. Whether you’re celebrating with family or enjoying these dishes in a Chinese restaurant, these traditional Chinese New Year foods are definitely worth trying!

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