Friday February 16th is Chinese New Year. Min C. an au pair in Washington DC shared this great post on the special foods that are served during the Chinese New Year.
Tang-yuan (dumplings made of sweet rice, rolled into balls and stuffed with either sweet or spicy fillings) is what most southern families have for breakfast on the day of Chinese New Year. It has many English names: glutinous rice dumplings; glutinous rice balls；sweet dumplings；sweet soup balls. Tang-yuan looks round and smooth, like the full moon which means harmony and perfection in Chinese culture. So we believe Tang-yuan stands for reunion and brings good luck for families. By eating it on New Year’s Day, we hope we’ll get together with families and friends again next year.
There are many variations nowadays. They can be made into many cute shape and colors. They can have different fillings such as fruits, nuts or sweet bean paste. There are also little ones without any fillings. So Tang-yuan is a kind of common food in daily life too.
Dumplings are one of the major foods eaten during the Chinese New Year and year round in the northern provinces. They look like the golden ingots yuan bao, which was used during the Ming Dynasty for money.
There are many reasons why Chinese like eating dumplings to celebrate the new year. Besides its delicious flavor, the money-like shape of dumplings make people think it will bring more fortune in the coming year. Also people feel it’s like filling lucky, happy things into the dumplings while making them, with their best hope for a new year.
There are other dishes we love to eat during family reunion dinners during the Lunar New Year, such as fish which can mean “May you have the prosperity through the years.”