For instance, the word for fish sounds similar to “surplus” or “excess,” and therefore, fish is featured heavily during the holidays. The fish is prepared whole, with its head pointed towards guests or elders. It is presented as a last course and NOT meant to be completely consumed, for having leftover fish symbolizes the continual abundance of food throughout the year.
The word for pomelo, a grapefruit-like fruit, sounds similar to the verb, “to have,” and thus represents fertility.
The shape or color of food itself can also lend meaning. For example, the dumpling shape is similar to ancient gold and silver ingots.
And long skinny noodles symbolize a long life, thus noodle strands are never cut before cooking!
Some foods look AND sound lucky. Oranges are golden and sunny in color, and thus represent good fortune. But its name also sounds like the word for “success.”
And the steamed, sweet, sticky rice cake called “nian-gao” symbolizes a rich, sweet life because it is rich and sweet. Furthermore, the name sounds like the phrase, “Getting higher year by year,” and thus signifies growth in prosperity.
Finally, there’s shrimp and chicken. Shrimp symbolize liveliness, while a whole chicken (a lot of foods are served whole to symbolize unity in the family) is thought to be symbolic of the dragon and the phoenix combined. It represents happiness in marriage and family, prosperity and joy.
So, can anyone guess what might NOT be served during the Lunar New Year? A hint: it’s based on an unlucky wedding dress color I mentioned in the previous post!