Traditional Chinese New Year Dishes

  • January 25, 2023

By Amanda Schwalbach

Photo courtesy of

Like any holiday, food is always involved in some way and is part of traditions. As Lunar New Year comes around, I would like to take note of some of the many traditional dishes that tend to be made for this holiday. 

Dumplings, one of the most distinguished parts of Asian cuisine, are a common signature food with Lunar New Year. Within Chinese culture, dumplings are a sign of wealth. One Chinese legend claims that the more dumplings that are eaten, then the more money someone will make in that new year. However, it is forbidden for dumplings to be placed in circular formations, and instead to be arranged in lines to symbolize the progression of someone’s life. In addition, , everyone must say, “Zhāo cái jìn bǎo”, or “Bringing wealth and fortune” to each other before eating the dumplings. 

Noodles also make a common appearance in Lunar New Year cuisine. They are often called “longevity noodles”. This dish has dated back since 87 BC to Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty. It is recommended that the longer the noodles are, the better luck you may have.

Steamed chicken is a common Chinese protein that is eaten for the new year. Steaming a whole chicken represents family and is often offered to ancestors, as a way of asking for blessings, before being eaten by other family members. 

Along with food, there’s a common etiquette at the dinner table for Lunar New Year. Here are a few according to

  1. Sticking chopsticks into a bowl (vertically) is disrespectful and a sign of bad luck — one reason why is that if chopsticks stick vertically in a bowl, it can resemble incense sticks that are burned at a gravestone.
  2. Do not tap your chopsticks on dishes.
  3. Eat with your mouth closed and do not slurp.
  4. Do not eat before your host, and serve someone else before you serve yourself.
  5. Never pass food around with chopsticks.
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