ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Chinese New Year: Food and Culture

Updated on January 27, 2013

Mandarin Oranges

Mandarin oranges is a must eat during Chinese New Year.
Mandarin oranges is a must eat during Chinese New Year.

Culture and Tradition

Every year, Chinese people all around the world await the celebration of Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is a festival which is steeped in culture and tradition. During this time of the year, there are lots of delicious food to savor. For these foods, some add special meaning to this festival through beliefs passed down from one generation to another.

Eating Mandarin Oranges for Wealth

One of the must-haves during Chinese New Year (CNY) is mandarin oranges. In Cantonese, the word for Mandarin orange and gold are phonetically similar. Both are pronounced as "kam". Hence, Mandarin oranges represent wealth. When visiting relatives or friends at open house, it is also the norm to bring gifts along. The gift could include oranges. However, when giving away oranges, the number of oranges must not be odd, and usually an auspicious amount is given. Another food which can be part of the gift is groundnuts.

Festive Decorations: Chinese Lanterns

Chinese lanterns are hanged outside homes.
Chinese lanterns are hanged outside homes.

Fish Represents Abundance

During Chinese New Year, fish is also usually served. The Chinese word for fish sounds similar to the Chinese word for abundance. Thus, fish is always one of the dishes served at lunch or dinner during Chinese New Year. When eating fish with other Chinese people, if possible do not overturn the fish. This is traditionally a bad omen and those who believe this, especially the older generation would not like it.

Modern Festive Decorations - Tree of Wealth

Have a Long Life With Vermicelli

Vermicelli is a type of noodles which is thin and long. The length represents longevity. At home, on the first morning of Chinese New Year, my mother would usually prepare the noodles for breakfast. It would be our first meal in the new Lunar Year. For those who are vegetarian, you can pair the noodles with vegetables. For those who are not, you can add meat.

Toss Yeesang!

The yeesang is a mish-mash of different types of food including raw fish, vegetables and spices. As there are lots of different ingredients, the dish looks colourful and is very appetizing. This dish did not originate from China but was created by the ethnic Chinese located in the South East Asian countries of Malaysia and Singapore.

As family members or friends share this dish, they will toss the ingredients as high as possible. The higher you toss, the more abundance you will receive. The yeesang used to be eaten only on the seventh day of Chinese New Year, which is considered as everyone's birthday. Now, restaurants start serving yeesang even before the Lunar New Year.

Red Flower Motif for Chinese New Year

Collecting Angpows

Before CNY, there is always lots of spring cleaning to do. Festive decoratons such as lanterns would also be hung around the house. Another must-have is angpow or red packets, be it giving or receiving. Children especially, would look forward to receiving these red packets from their parents and other married relatives as the angpows would contain a sum of money. Before receiving these angpows, the receivers will wish the givers with an auspicious phrase.

Chinese New Year is a great time to taste lots of delicious food and to collect some extra pocket money but the most important point of CNY is still the opportunity to spend time together as a family to celebrate the coming of the new Lunar year.

Modern Lantern


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • lilian_sg profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for commenting! I'm glad you found the hub useful =)

    • Mountain Blossoms profile image

      Marianne Kellow 

      7 years ago from SE Thailand

      Lovely hub and really interesting as we have a wonderful Chinese/Thai family who celebrate Chinese New Year with us. Now I understand some of the dishes and their significance!

    • lilian_sg profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Debbie for commenting! I'm glad you found this interesting!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Great hub.. I was just watching on TV about Chinese New Year. I didn't know all this on the food though. Great Information.



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)