According to the Gregorian calendar, the first month of 2016 has already passed. However, the 2016 of the Chinese Lunar Year won’t arrive until February 8.
Spring Festival, also known as Chinese Lunar New Year, is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunar calendar. The festival runs from the evening preceding the first day of the Chinese New Year to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first lunar month.
Different areas of China have different customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the festival. However, the tradition of getting together with families to have the annual reunion dinner is seen almost everywhere.
Beijing Today has picked out several popular dishes commonly seen on Chinese tables during the New Year holiday.
The history of Chinese dumplings can be traced back to the Northern and Southern dynasties (420-589). By the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, dumplings had become a popular and essential holiday food.
According to folk legend, there are two reason for eat dumplings: the shape of most dumplings resembles a Chinese tael, which symbolizes hope for wealth in the coming year year. The stuffing also offers a compartment to store auspicious materials such as candy or coins.
In modern times, dumplings are the primary food on the New Year’s Eve and the first meal on the first and the fifth day of the New Year.
It is very common to see a fish dish at a Chinese New Year reunion dinner.
The eating of fish has many meanings. In Mandarin dialects, fish is pronounced as “yu,” which is a homonym with the word for abundance. A common well wishing is ‘Niannian you yu,’ which means ‘May you have surpluses and bountiful harvests every year.’
In southern China, some people just eat the middle part of the fish on the New Year Eve, leaving the head and tail to the next day to symbolize completeness.
Chinese people started to eat Yuanxiao on Lantern Day during the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279). The round shape of the yuanxiao is a symbol of family reunion.
Northern China and southern China have different eating habits and ways of making yuanxiao. In southern China, rice dumplings are called Tangyuan. A dough of glutinous rice powder is stuffed with bean paste, brown sugar, fruits and nuts.
In the north of the country, rice dumplings are called Yuanxiao and are made by wrapping glutinous rice flour around the stuffing. The fillings are shaped and coated by rolling the balls in a bamboo basket full of rice flour.