What Foods You Should (and Shouldn’t) Eat for Good Luck During Chinese New Year 2024

Celebrating Lunar New Year on January 22, 2024, symbolizes prosperity, health, and family unity through traditional foods like dumplings for wealth, sweet rice cake for career growth, and fish for surplus. These dishes, along with longevity noodles and tangyuan, embody the rich cultural heritage and the wishes for a joyful and prosperous Year of the Dragon.

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Chinese New Year, celebrated in 2024 on Saturday, February 10th, marks the beginning of the Year of the Dragon, a symbol of power, strength, and good luck in Chinese culture. This festival is the cornerstone of Chinese tradition, lasting for 15 days and concluding with the Lantern Festival. It is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar, observed with much fervor across various Chinese communities around the globe. The celebration involves not just firecrackers, red envelopes, and lion dances but also centers around feasting on specific foods believed to bring luck, prosperity, and health in the new year. Each dish served during this period carries deep symbolic meaning, with particular foods thought to attract good fortune.

Lucky Foods for Chinese New Year

Here’s a list of 10 foods traditionally eaten during Chinese New Year for their auspicious meanings:

1. Fish

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A symbol of abundance and prosperity. The Mandarin word for fish, "yu," sounds like the word for surplus, indicating a wish for more in the coming year.

2. Dumplings

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Shaped like ancient Chinese gold ingots, they represent wealth. It's believed that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations, the more money you can make in the year ahead.

3. Spring Rolls

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Their golden-yellow color resembles gold bars, symbolizing wealth.

4. Glutinous Rice Cake (Nian Gao)

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Eating nian gao is thought to bring higher income or a higher position in the new year because "nian gao" sounds like "year high."

5. Sweet Rice Balls (Tang Yuan)

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Their round shape signifies family togetherness, and they are traditionally eaten during the Lantern Festival.

6. Long Noodles

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Symbolizing longevity, they are eaten to wish for a long life. It's important not to break them during cooking or eating.

7. Pomelo

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This large citrus fruit is associated with continuous prosperity. The word for pomelo sounds like the word for "to have" in Chinese, signifying having prosperity and status.

8. Oranges and Tangerines

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A symbol of good luck and wealth. Their bright colors resemble gold, and giving them as gifts or displaying them in the home invites luck and fortune.

9. Lotus Seeds and Dates

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Representing fertility and the hope for many children and a happy family.

10. Vegetables

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Especially leafy greens, symbolize a fresh start and clean break with the past.

Foods to Avoid During Chinese New Year

While the festival encourages indulgence in foods that bring good fortune, certain foods are best avoided to not invite bad luck:

  • Squid or Cuttlefish – Their name sounds like the word for "get fired" in Chinese, which is not auspicious.
  • Porridge – Eating porridge for breakfast during the New Year is seen as a sign of poverty and is therefore avoided.
  • White-colored foods – Such as tofu, are not consumed as white symbolizes mourning.
  • Meat – Particularly on the first day, as it's believed to ensure a long and happy life.
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