This Friday, Feb. 12, the world celebrates the Year of the Ox. The Lunar New Year marks the start of a new year in the Chinese calendar. Unlike the New Year celebrated every Jan. 1, the date for the Chinese New Year is not fixed and is rather based on the appearance of the new moon.
While social distancing and other health and safety protocols are in place in the midst of a pandemic, here are eight lucky food items that will light up the faces of those around the family dinner table.
Chinese New Year Cake. Nope, it’s not the usual cakes we know, but the Chinese New Year favorite nian gao—or what Filipinos refer to as tikoy. This treat is made from glutinous rice flour, and mixed with lard, water and sugar. It’s impossible to miss these during a Chinese New Year meal. The sticky rice symbolizes unity in the family.
SunStar File Noodles. We’ve heard this time and again: Long noodles, long life. In fact, most Chinese have to have noodles on their birthdays. How much more during the start of the Lunar New Year?
Chicken. Chicken is the easiest meat one can find on the market and serve whole for everyone. It’s good to have a whole chicken for the meal as many see this as another symbol for togetherness and staying whole.
Fish. During the Chinese New Year meal, fish is served for everyone and in a variety of ways. Besides enjoying the taste of fresh seafood with steamed white rice, the Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for “leftovers.” Diners expect this symbol to bring about an abundance during the incoming year.
Dumplings. There are a variety of dumplings but in Cebu, siomai is the most popular. Have some dumplings on the dinner table, as these little bite-sized goodies are believed to represent the little gold coins of old.
Spring Rolls. While dumplings represent gold coins, these deep-fried rolls symbolize gold bars. Another reason why these need to be a part of the menu? Children love them!
Tangerines. Generally, round fruits of all kinds are welcome. But tangerines are closest to tradition. Tangerines in Chinese sound like the words “good fortune.” Plus, they’re round, signifying coins, a sign of prosperity for the family.
Candies. Little pieces of dried fruit or candies are placed on the dinner table as these signify a “sweet life.” This may be quite timely this year, with Valentine’s Day coming in a couple of days.