Chinese New Year marks the Lunar New Year and it’s a time to start fresh with hopes for luck and happiness. Celebrations involve fireworks and firecrackers to scare away evil spirits from the new year, and like many of my family’s traditions, food is a big part of the festivities. We eat foods that are auspicious, such as red turtles opens in a new tab, desserts that represent luck (with the color red) and a long, healthy life (symbolized by the dessert’s turtle shape).
Here are some other foods my family eats for Chinese New Year:
It’s customary for guests to bring citrus fruits such as mandarins to their host or hostess. They’re a sweet symbol of good fortune and are eaten as dessert at the end of the celebratory meal.
As social as it is traditional, hot pot is piping hot broth (usually kept hot over a camp stove at the table) that thinly-sliced raw meats and vegetables are dipped in to cook — think fondue-style. It’s a fun and delicious communal activity that results in a soup that constantly changes flavor as the night goes on. If you’re going to have a hot pot at your table this year, try making your own Homemade Vegetable Broth opens in a new tab or Golden Chicken Broth opens in a new tab.
I started making these with my mother at a pretty young age. She would prepare the filling and I would help seal the pork, scallion, ginger and mushroom mixture into the dumpling wrappers. Dumplings are like little treasure chests of flavor that are said to bring prosperity into the new year.
Here are recipes for Spicy Asian Dumpling Soup opens in a new tab and Pork Dumplings with Dipping Sauce opens in a new tab that may even rival my mother’s (don’t tell her I said that)!
Noodles represent longevity and are usually served alongside the hot pot. During my grandmother’s birthday celebrations, we would search for the longest noodle in our bowls and present them to my grandmother for her to eat. I have a really big family, so she always had plenty of noodles to eat! Try Asian Noodle Soup opens in a new tab, Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup opens in a new tab, Sesame-Peanut Noodles opens in a new tab or Chinese-Style Longevity Noodles opens in a new tab
My favorite part of Chinese New Year is watching a dragon dance opens in a new tab or lion dance opens in a new tab where a team of dancers gets into one big bright dragon or lion costume and dances to drums and clanging cymbals.
What’s your favorite way to celebrate Chinese New Year?