Meaning Behind Chinese New Year Goodies

Chinese New Year Banner - Pineapple Tarts Singapore

Every year while we celebrate CNY, the first thing that comes to our minds will be Ang Baos, mandarin oranges, festive gathering of family and friends and last of all is of course snacking on CNY goodies! We all know that these goodies are so so so good and delicious but have we ever thought of why these goodies are consumed during CNY? Let us tell you the reasons behind some CNY snacks.


1) Bak Kwa

Bak Kwa Singapore

First and foremost, it’s definitely all our favorite king of the CNY goodies, Bak Kwa. For those who do not know, Bak Kwa is Squared thinly sliced dried meat (usually pork, but sometimes beef or mutton) barbecued with a combination of spices. It is usually grilled over charcoal to give it the smoky flavor. The name “Bak Kwa” is a hokkien word which means dried meat. In the past, Bak Kwa was a very expensive delicacy only being enjoyed by the rich, they were deemed as a luxurious food. Hence, people believed that giving Bak Kwas as gifts were to bring good luck and prosperity to families. Moreoever, the red color of the meat is believed to be auspicious in Chinese tradition, which also means to bring good luck as well as to ward off negativity.


2) Pineapple Tarts

Pineapple Tarts On Plate

Of course we do not forget one of our favorite CNY goodies which is the pineapple tarts. These savoury and delicious tarts are called “Ong Lai” in Hokkien which means prosperity comes in direct translation. As the Chinese tradition believes that luck and prosperity is very crucial, pineapple tarts is a must-have during Chinese New Year.


3) Nian Gao

Nian Gao

We all have definitely seen this during Chinese New Year at every relatives’ house but do we actually know why we have this? Well, this is a sweet rice cake which is called Nian Gao in Chinese. The word “Gao” in Chinese means high. Thus, Chinese believe that this symbolizes growth, progress and advancement.


4) Love Letters

Love Letters

Have you ever wondered why these are called Love Letters? In the past, legend has that these egg rolls were actually used to convey letters and notes between lovers. So the other party would eat the rolls signifying that he or she has accepted the words and that it has been taken to heart. The golden color and the shape of these Love Letters represent gold bars which is an auspicious item for Chinese and the eggs signifies fertility.


5) Mandarin Oranges

mandarin oranges

The shape and the orange color of mandarin oranges /  tangerines look like gold ingots used in the past as a form of currency. Also, they are called “Ju Zi” in Mandarin and luck is “Ji”. Since “Ju” and “Ji” sounds alike, Chinese believe that these mandarin oranges bring prosperity and luck.


6) Yusheng / Lo Hei

Lo Hei

We all know this is one of our favorite things to do during Chinese New Year when we will all gather around this dish with chopsticks and shout prosperous greetings, it’s always a joy doing this. This is a raw fish salad called “Yu Sheng” in chinese and “Lo Hei” in Cantonese. Since “Yu” means fish and also sounds like another word which means abundance in Mandarin, it is interpreted that this dish brings abundance. “Sheng” is rise or increase in Mandarin and thus “Yu Sheng” means an increase in abundance.


7) Tray of Togetherness

Tray of Togetherness

This platter is one of the commonly seen goodies in homes during Chinese New Year. It consists of different types of sweets and snacks like dry fruits and melon seeds. Usually, this platter has 8 compartments and the reason behind this is because Chinese believe that 8 is an auspicious number. Melon seeds would represent happiness and longans would mean to bring a family many offspring.


We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog post and Chinese New Year is just around the corner! If you haven’t already gotten your CNY goodies, you can get them from us! Here’s wishing all of you a Happy 2017, XIN NIAN KUAI LE and NIAN NIAN YOU YU!

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