Chinese New Year 2015: Five food traditions for Year of the Goat

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By: Danielle Waldron
dwaldron@flavor574.com

New Year is coming again, this time with the arrival of Chinese New Year on Thursday, Feb. 19. 

Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, marks the coming of spring on the second new moon after the winter solstice, the Independent reports. Each year has one of 12 animals assigned to represent the year, each with its own symbolism.

2015 is the Year of the Goat, which legend says is partial to peace but is also stubborn. 

In observation, families hang lanterns from their homes and married couples give red envelopes filled with money to their loved ones, according to Fortune. Celebrations this year last from Feb. 19 through the end of the month. 

Reuniting with family is an essential part of Chinese New Year celebrations — nearly 2.8 billion trips are made in China alone so families can be together for the reunion dinner, according to the Independent.

After the reunion dinner, food still takes center stage during Chinese New Year celebrations: 

  • Citrus fruits: Eating tangerines and oranges, especially if they bear leaves, is said to bring prosperity and good fortune, Chow reports. Just don’t serve them in multiples of four — that is said to be a death omen. 
  • Long foods: Long beans, dumplings, fish and noodles are popular on the Chinese New Year reunion dinner spread, according to AJC. The longer the bean or noodle, the better — long foods are a symbol of a long life.
  • Cake: Celebrations aren’t celebrations without sweets, and Chinese New Year is no exception. Nian gao is a traditional cake made from sticky, glutinous rice eaten during Chinese New Year, according to Cultural China. The origin of the cake dates back to dynastic periods. The cake is said to bring good luck. 
  • Fish: Whole fish are popular dishes during Chinese New Year and can be boiled, steamed, braised or deep-fried, CCTV America reports. Choose your fish wisely, however, as different fish are said to bring different fortunes throughout the year.
  • Chicken: Not unlike the tradition of a whole turkey on Thanksgiving, a whole chicken — served with the head and feet attached — is served to symbolize a good marriage and unity between families, according to LA Weekly.
Follow digital producer Danielle Waldron on Twitter @DanielleWaldron.  
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