What do you do on Chinese New Years Eve?

On 4th of February, our Chinese Academy went out together for a New Years Eve dinner in 小南国. Family is the basis of Chinese society, which is seen through the significance placed on the New Year’s Eve dinner (年夜饭- Nián yè fàn) or Reunion dinner (团年饭 – tuán nián fàn). This feast is extremely important to the Chinese. All family members must come back home. Even if they truly can’t, the rest of the family will leave their spot empty and place a spare set of utensils for them.According to the legend of the Spring Festival’s origin, this was when the monster Nian would come and terrorize the villages. The people would hide in their homes, prepare a feast with offerings to the ancestors and gods, and hope for the best.Food is one of the things that the Chinese take the most pride in. And of course, a lot of care and thought is put into the menu for the most important holiday of the year. As with Chinese New Year activities and decorations, the dishes are created to give blessings for the next year. Both the names and looks are symbols of wishes for prosperity, happiness, and auspiciousness. Though every region (even every household) has different customs, there are some common dishes seen on every table.

What Type of Food is Eaten on Chinese New Year?

During the dinner, normally fish will be served. Dumplings are the most important dish in Northern China. These two dishes signify prosperity. Other dishes are dependent on personal preference. The majority of Chinese will have New Year’s Eve dinner at home instead of a restaurant.New Year’s Eve dinner is very large and traditionally includes dumplings, chicken, and pork. Fish (魚, yú) is also included, but intentionally not finished, and the remaining fish is stored overnight. The reason for this stems from a pun, as the Chinese phrase 年年有魚/餘; (nián nián yǒu yú, or “every year there is fish/leftover”) is a homophone for phrases which mean “be blessed every year” or “have abundant profit every year”. Similarly, a type of black hair-like algae, “fat choy” (髮菜, fǎ cài, literally “hair vegetable” in Chinese), is also featured in many dishes since its name sounds similar to “prosperity” (發財, fā cái). Hakka will serve “kiu nyuk” 扣肉 and “ngiong tiu fu” 釀豆腐. The belief is that having one will lead to the other, as the phrases sound similar to one another.

In the end, its all about friendship and reunion. Love and peace everybody, and happy new year!