Chinese Customs Beckon Good Fortune
For more than 5,000 years, people have been celebrating the Chinese New Year. The two-week festival marks the start of the lunar calendar and is the most important of Chinese holidays. Festivities start with the new moon on the first day of the New Year and end on the full moon 15 days later, when Chinese communities celebrate the Lantern Festival. Its many rituals include visits to ancestral shrines, parades and fireworks, and feasts with traditional foods.
Food customs include:
A whole fish, signifying prosperity and placed pointing to the guest of honor, is often the centerpiece of the meal and the last dish to be served. Fish and fowl served whole with the head suggest “a favorable start and finish.”
Tofu, pork, roast duck and chicken may also be served, as they, too, represent good luck. Asian noodles, especially long, whole noodles, are served because they represent long life. For New Year’s in Northern China, dumplings are served while noodles are eaten in the south.
Thin vermicelli noodles are called “silvery threads of longevity.” Seasoned pork shoulder is “Mist of Harmony.” The names of food served during the New Year suggest auspicious things. Some Chinatown merchants even put away foods that sound negative, such as “bittermelon.”
Among Chinese dining customs: