Do you know what these Chinese food mean during CNY?

chinese new year food and meaning

Fish — an Increase in Prosperity
鱼——越来越富足

When you are learning Chinese, you need to know the culture. In Chinese, “fish” (鱼 Yú /yoo/) sounds like ‘surplus’. Chinese people always like to have a surplus at the end of the year, because they think if they have managed to save something at the end of the year, then they can make more in the next year.
中文里,“鱼”和“余”谐音。中国人喜欢在年末有结余,因为他们认为如果自己能在年底攒下一些财富,明年他们将能赚取更多。

不同的鱼都有什么寓意?

What fish should be chosen for the New Year feast is based on auspicious homophonics.
年夜饭上要选用什么鱼取决于发音是否吉利。

Crucian carp: As the first character of ‘crucian carp’ (鲫鱼 jìyú /jee-yoo/) sounds like the Chinese word 吉 (jí /jee/ ‘good luck’), eating crucian carp is considered to bring good luck for the next year.
鲫鱼:因为鲫鱼的“鲫”和吉利的“吉”谐音,所以吃鲫鱼被认为可以给来年带来好运。

Chinese mud carp: The first part of the Chinese for “mud carp” (鲤鱼 lǐyú /lee-yoo/) is pronounced like the word for gifts (礼 lǐ /lee/). So Chinese people think eating mud carp during the Chinese New Year symbolizes wishing for good fortune.
鲤鱼:鲤鱼的“鲤”和“礼”谐音。所以中国人认为过年吃鲤鱼象征着盼望好运。

Catfish: The Chinese for “catfish” (鲶鱼 niányú /nyen-yoo/) sounds like 年余 (nián yú) meaning ‘year surplus’. So eating catfish is a wish for a surplus in the year.
鲶鱼:“鲶鱼”和“年余”发音相同。所以吃鲶鱼是希望一年有富余。

Eating two fish, one on New Year’s Eve and one on New Year’s Day, (if written in a certain way) sounds like a wish for a surplus year-after-year.
吃两条鱼,除夕吃一条,大年初一吃一条,是希望年年有余(年年有鱼)。

If only one catfish is eaten, eating the upper part of the fish on New Year’s Eve and the remainder on the first day of the new year can be spoken with the same homophonic meaning.
如果只做了一条鲶鱼,在除夕吃掉上半条,到大年初一再吃掉下半条,也有同样的意思。

鱼的吃法也很重要,来看看过年吃鱼都有什么讲究:

The fish should be the last dish left with some left over, as this has auspicious homophonics for there being surpluses every year. This is practiced north of the Yangtze River, but in other areas the head and tail of the fish shouldn’t be eaten until the beginning of the year, which expresses the hope that the year will start and finish with surplus.
鱼应该是吃剩下的最后一道菜,而且还不能全吃完,因为这象征着年年有“余”。这是长江以北地区的习俗,在其他一些地区鱼头和鱼尾要到大年初一才能吃,这代表着从年头到年尾都有富余的希望。

There are some rules related to the position of the fish.
关于鱼的摆放也有一些讲究。

The head should be placed toward distinguished guests or elders, representing respect.
鱼头应该朝着尊贵的客人或长辈,代表尊重。

Diners can enjoy the fish only after the one who faces the fish head eats first.
只有鱼头所对的人先吃,其他人才能下筷。

The fish shouldn’t be moved. The two people who face the head and tail of fish should drink together, as this is considered to have a lucky meaning.
鱼不能被移动。鱼头和鱼尾所对的人应该一起喝一杯,这样做被认为很吉利。

Chinese Dumplings — Wealth
饺子——财富

With a history of more than 1,800 years, dumplings (饺子 Jiǎozi /jyaoww-dzrr/) are a classic Chinese food, and a traditional dish eaten on Chinese New Year’s Eve, widely popular in China, especially in North China.
拥有1800多年历史的饺子是经典的中国美食,是年夜饭的一道传统菜,在中国,尤其是中国北方很常见。

Chinese dumplings can be made to look like Chinese silver ingots (which are not bars, but boat-shaped, oval, and turned up at the two ends). Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations, the more money you can make in the New Year.
有人把饺子包得像元宝(寓意:招财进宝)。传说你在庆祝新年时吃的饺子越多,你在来年挣的钱越多。

Dumplings generally consist of minced meat and finely-chopped vegetables wrapped in a thin and elastic dough skin. Popular fillings are minced pork, diced shrimp, fish, ground chicken, beef, and vegetables. They can be cooked by boiling, steaming, frying or baking.
饺子里通常包的是肉馅和切碎的蔬菜,面皮薄而有弹性。人们爱吃的饺子馅有绞肉、虾仁、鱼肉、碎鸡肉、牛肉和蔬菜。饺子可以煮、蒸、煎或烤。

Chinese don’t eat Chinese sauerkraut (酸菜 suāncài /swann-tseye/) dumplings at Spring Festival, because it implies a poor and difficult future. On New Year’s Eve it is a tradition to eat dumplings with cabbage and radish, implying that one’s skin will become fair and one’s mood will become gentle.
中国人不在春节吃酸菜馅饺子,因为这暗示着贫穷艰苦的未来。除夕的传统是吃白菜萝卜馅饺子,据说吃了皮肤能变白,性格变温和。

怎样能包出吉利的饺子?

When making dumplings there should be a good number of pleats. If you make the junction too flat, it is thought to purport poverty.
包饺子要多捏几个褶。如果你把饺子边捏得过平,意味着贫穷。

Some Chinese put a white thread inside a dumpling, and the one who eats that dumpling is supposed to possess longevity. Sometimes a copper coin is put in a dumpling, and the one who eats it is supposed to become wealthy.
有的中国人会在饺子里放一条白线,吃到这个白线饺子的人将会长寿。有时还会在饺子里放一个铜币,吃到铜币的人将会富有。

Dumplings should be arranged in lines instead of circles, because circles of dumplings are supposed to mean one’s life will go round in circles, never going anywhere.
饺子要按直线摆放,不能摆成圆圈,因为排成圆圈的饺子意味着生活会一直在原地绕。

Spring Rolls — Wealth
春卷——财富

Spring rolls (春卷 Chūnjuǎn /chwnn- jwen/) get their name because they are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival. It is a dish especially popular in East China: Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Fujian, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, etc.
春卷是春节期间吃的传统食物,故此得名。春卷在中国东部很受欢迎:江西、江苏、上海、福建、广州、深圳、香港等。

Spring rolls are a Cantonese dim sum dish of cylindrical-shaped rolls filled with vegetables, meat, or something sweet. Fillings are wrapped in thin dough wrappers, then fried, when the spring rolls are given their golden-yellow color.
春卷是一种广式点心,用薄面皮把蔬菜、肉或甜馅包成圆柱形的卷,然后油炸至金黄色。(寓意:黄金万两)

Glutinous Rice Cake — a Higher Income or Position
年糕——更高的收入或职位

In Chinese, glutinous rice cake (年糕 Niángāo /nyen-gaoww/) sounds like it means “‘getting higher year-on- by year”‘. The main ingredients of niangao are sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, Chinese dates, and lotus leaves.
在中文里,“年糕”的发音同“年高”,寓意“年年高”。年糕的主要原料是糯米、糖、栗子、枣和荷叶。

Sweet Rice Balls — Family Togetherness
汤圆——阖家团圆

Sweet rice ball (汤圆 Tāngyuán /tung-ywen/) is the main food for China’s Lantern Festival, however, in south China, people eat them throughout the Spring Festival. The pronunciation and round shape of tangyuan are associated with reunion and being together. That’s why they are favored by the Chinese during the New Year celebrations.
汤圆是中国元宵节的主要食物,但在中国南方,人们春节期间也会吃汤圆。汤圆的发音和形状与团圆有关。这也是为什么中国人喜欢在庆祝新年时吃汤圆的原因。

Good Fortune Fruit — Fullness and Wealth
吉利的水果——丰盈和富裕

Certain fruits are eaten during the Chinese New Year period, such as tangerines and oranges, and pomeloes. They are selected as they are particularly round and “golden” in color, symbolizing fullness and wealth, but more obviously for the lucky sound they bring when spoken.
春节期间会吃特定的水果,比如桔子、橙子和柚子。它们被选为吉利的水果是因为它们都特别圆,而且颜色金灿灿的,象征着丰盈和富裕,但更多的是因为它们的发音。

Eating and displaying tangerines and oranges is believed to bring good luck and fortune due to their pronunciation, and even writing. The Chinese for orange (and tangerine) is 橙 (chéng /chnng/), which sounds the same as the Chinese for ‘success’ (成). One of the ways of writing tangerine (桔 jú /jyoo/) contains the Chinese character for luck (吉 jí /jee/).
食用、展示桔子和橙子被认为可以带来好运和财富,因为它们的发音和文字都很吉利。中文里,“橙”和“成”发音相同。“桔”字中含有吉利的“吉”字。

Eating pomeloes/shaddocks is thought to bring continuous prosperity. The more you eat, the more wealth it will bring, as the traditional saying goes. The Chinese for pomelo (柚 yòu /yo/) sounds like ‘to have’ (有 yǒu), except for the tone, and exactly like ‘again’ (又 yòu).
吃柚子据说能带来持久的繁荣。老话说,你吃的柚子越多,柚子给你带来的财富就会越多。中文里的“柚”和“有”谐音,和“又”的发音也相同。


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