Traditional Chinese New Year Food - 10 Most Popular Lucky Dishes

Written by Sally Guo Updated Feb. 7, 2022

The family reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve matters a lot for Chinese people.  Below is a list of the luckiest Chinese New Year food with good symbols. The lunar New Year 2022 is coming, try these traditional dishes and have a prosperous next year...

1. Steamed Fish

Steamed Fish

Steamed Fish

Fish is one of the main dishes commonly eaten for the New Year dinner throughout the whole country.  The Chinese word"fish" sounds like the word for surplus. so eating fish stands for: “always have more than you wish”.

It is important that the fish is served with the head and tail intact to ensure a good start and finish and to avoid bad luck.  The general way to cook fish is to either steam or braise it.

2. Chicken - a symbol of good luck

Cantonese Poached Chicken

Cantonese Poached Chicken

Chicken is a homophone for good luck, so eating chicken often means good luck and auspice in Chinese culture.

A whole chicken is served in some places with the meaning of happiness and reunion. Before the New Year’s Eve dinner, the Cantonese Hakkas worship gods and their ancestors with a free-ranging chicken to wish for a burgeoning and kicking life in the new year.

Chicken dishes for family reunion dinner including:

3. Pork: a symbol of prosperous life

Shanghai-style Braised Pork Belly

Shanghai-style Braised Pork Belly

In rural areas of China, it is a tradition to kill a domestic pig for the Spring Festival, to comfort a year’s hard work. People regard eating pork at family reunion dinners as a symbol of a rich life.

4. Shrimp: Laugh Out Loud Every Day

Shrimp Meat with Longjing

Shrimp Meat with Longjing Tea

Your mouth will look like you are saying “hahaha” when saying shrimp, “xiā 虾” in Chinese. People eat shrimp at this most important dinner to wish for a happy life for the coming new year.

5. Chinese New Year Dumplings - Better Changes



Dumpling is a must-eat dish in Northern China, where eating dumplings means life will be better.  Because the shape of the dumpling likes a gold ingot, eating dumplings on New Year’s Eve also has the meaning of “ushering in wealth and prosperity”.

What’s interesting is that people who eat the dumplings occasionally stuffed with special materials like a coin, a candy, a peanut, or a red date, will have the best luck in the New Year.

6. Tang Yuan-Family Reunion

Tang Yuan- sweet soup with balls- is a symbol of family reunion in Chinese culture.  It is a tradition for people in the south of China to eat Tang Yuan on New Year’s Eve. Eating Tang Yuan symbolizes sweet and happy life.    

7. Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls

Spring rolls- Chun Juan or Chun Bing in Chinese- are golden-fried pastries. 

The name is intrinsically linked to the Spring Festival. The Chinese have had the custom of having spring rolls since ancient times, to mark the end of winter and to welcome a lively spring.

8. Celery

The Chinese word for"celery" is pronounced the same as hardworking.  Eating celery is always with the hope of hardworking and great achievements. 

 Parents often want their kids to eat some celery in the hope that they will work hard and become better in study or work. 

9. Lettuce

The word "lettuce" sounds similar to “make fortune” in Cantonese. Lettuce is often cooked with oyster sauce and sprinkled with some fried mashed garlic, a dish meaning “gold bars make fortune.
10.  Garlic chives

Eating Garlic chives means long and everlasting in Chinese. So eating garlic chives at Chinese New Year means: “good days will be long-lasting”.

10. New Year Cake

New Year cake or rice cake, sounds like “getting higher year by year” in Chinese. The higher you are, the more prosperous your business is. Hence the Year Cake symbolizes achieving new heights in the coming year.

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