The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, begins on February 19 and rings in the Year of the Goat according to the Chinese zodiac. Unlike the more universal New Year’s celebration, these festivities spread out over the course of 15 days instead of just one. This extended celebration means something very important for the food-obsessed among us: more opportunities to eat. Food plays a significant role during this time, as certain kinds of foods represent recurring themes of wealth and good fortune. It’s time to get lucky.
1. Long Noodles
While noodles are a staple food in Chinese cuisine, make sure they’re extra long during the Lunar New Year. Not too surprisingly, uncut noodles represent a long life. It is also common to eat these “longevity” noodles during other celebrations, especially birthdays. Want to extend your life? Try out this pork stir fry recipe. Just be careful while cooking the noodles; you wouldn’t want to accidentally cut one in half. In case you were wondering, slurping is highly encouraged.
2. Tangerines & Oranges
Ready to be mind blown? The Chinese word for “tangerines” sounds like the word for “luck,” while the word for “oranges” is similar to “gold” or “wealth.” Coincidentally, these citrus fruits are supposed to bring you good fortune and luck. Plus, they give you a healthy dose of vitamin C, which is a flu-season necessity. Double win.
3. Nian Gao
Nian gao is a type of cake made from glutinous rice, which is traditionally eaten during the Chinese New Year for good luck and prosperity in the coming year. “Nian” means “year” and “gao” means “higher,” representing a higher income, a sense of progress and overall a better life. Usually these cakes are only available in oriental markets close to the Chinese New Year.
4. Sweets & White Rabbit
Channel your inner child with this Chinese New Year tradition. Wake up and eat a sweet piece of candy before brushing your teeth or eating anything else in order to ensure a sweet year. White Rabbit is a popular candy that can be found at most oriental markets. It tastes like a vanilla tootsie roll, and you can eat the “paper” layer (note: it’s different from the actual wrapper).
5. Traditional Chinese Dumplings
Jiaozi, a type of dumpling, is yet another traditional food for the CNY. Made to resemble an ancient Chinese gold or silver ingot, jiaozi symbolizes wealth. Families typically wait until midnight of the Chinese New Year’s Eve to consume these dumplings filled with vegetables or ground meat. Making your own dumplings could be a bit of a challenge, so we recommend buying pre-made jiaozi and either boiling or frying them.
At this point you’re probably ready to go track down these foods to celebrate the upcoming Year of the Goat yourself. You can find premade dumplings and nian gao at two different local Chinese oriental markets. Chun Ching Oriental Food Supply is less than five minutes away from campus and behind Cafe C, while Eastern Market is located next door to the new grocery store, Lucky’s Market — perfect if you want tangerines or oranges at the same time.