Celebrating Lunar Chinese New Year

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Celebrating Lunar Chinese New Year with must-have traditional foods, beautiful table settings, and lucky customs designed to bring health and prosperity in the new year.

Celebrating Chinese New Year

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Setting the Lunar Chinese New Year Table

Set your Chinese New Year table with lots of colors. Here are some essential ideas for setting the Chinese New Year table.

Lunar Chinese New Year Recipes

Foods celebrating Chinese New Year often have symbolic meaning. Food & Wine Magazine say these 6 foods should be on every Lunar New Year table.

1. Whole Fish: In Chinese, the word for fish sounds a lot like the word for abundance (food puns/sound-alikes are a big theme in Chinese New Year foods). It is important that the fish be served whole with the head and tail intact; this will guarantee a great start and finish to the year. 

2. Leafy Greens: Serve greens like Chinese broccoli or bok choy whole to symbolize a long life for parents. 

RELATED: Celebrating Chinese New Year: History, Customs and Foods

3. Leeks: The word for leek in Chinese is a homophone for calculating money. While they’re typically served with slices of Chinese sausage (because they look like coins) leeks can also be sliced into coin-shaped rounds themselves and cooked until terrifically tender. 

4. Uncut Noodles: Long, uncut noodles represent longevity. 

5. Dumplings: Rectangular dumplings symbolize money and prosperity because they resemble gold or silver ingots. But round or crescent-shaped dumplings are also acceptable; making them symbolizes packing luck into a little, edible gift. 

6. Seeds: If you’re hoping to add a new member to your family this year, include some pumpkin, sunflower or melon seeds in your meal—they symbolize fertility. This sunflower seed brittle is a deliciously crunchy way to end a meal.

Lunar Chinese New Year Recipes and Ideas

Red Chinese Lanterns

Chinese New Year Customs

While there are many Chinese New Year traditions, it’s been said that these are the best 4 customs of all.

1. Decorations — Lucky Red

Every street, building, and home is decorated with red, believed to be an auspicious color. Chinese lanterns hang in streets; red couplets are pasted on doors; banks and official buildings are decorated with red New Year pictures depicting images of prosperity.

2. Chinese New Year’s Eve — Family Time

Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) is a time for families to be together. A “reunion” dinner is celebrated each Chinese New Year’s Eve and is considered to be the most important day of the season.  is the most important time. Wherever they are, people are expected to be home to celebrate the festival with their families.

3. Firecrackers and Fireworks

Fireworks begin during the first minute or the new year. Major cities always have public displays.

4. Gifts and Red Envelopes

Like Christmas. exchanging gifts during the Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, is a long-standing, anticipated tradition. 

The most common New Year gifts are red envelopes. Red envelopes have money in, and are believed to bring good luck because they are red. They are given to children and retirees. Customarily only employers give red envelopes to working adults.

See How Much Money Goes Inside the Red Envelopes

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