It’s the Year of the Pig – the 12th of all zodiac animals in Chinese astrology.
As a symbol of wealth and prosperity in the Chinese culture, the pig is also associated with earthly energies, and the hours 9pm to 11pm.
In terms of yin and yang, the pig is yin – the passive female principle of the universe, characterised as female and sustaining. Particular foods are eaten during the Chinese New Year, which began on February 5 and ends on February 19. The dishes are chosen for their symbolism as they’re said to bring luck for your next revolution around the sun.
The auspicious symbolism of these traditional Chinese foods is based on their phonetics and/or aesthetics. Not only do the dishes matter, but also how they’re prepared, served and eaten.
Fill your pantry with these delights that are sure to bring on a fortuitous beginning in the Year of the Pig.
Dumplings are synonymous with Chinese culture. This classical dish is a symbol of wealth and can be made to look like Chinese silver ingots, which are oval and boat-shaped, and turned up at the ends. Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat, the more wealth you acquire in the new year.
Chinese dumplings as a staple are usually made with minced meat and finely chopped vegetables wrapped in dough. Other filling favourites include pulled pork, diced shrimp, fish, ground chicken and fried beef and vegetables. Dumplings can be boiled, baked, steamed or fried. It’s also interesting to note that different fillings have different meanings. Chinese people believe that if you eat dumplings filled with radish and cabbage on New Year’s Eve, your skin will be radiant and your demeanour as delicate as the dough – not to mention it being a wish for amassing a fortune.
The trick to making the lucky dumplings involves a good number of pleats. If you make the junction too flat, it is thought to purport poverty.
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 inside and the one who eats it is supposed to become wealthy. Dumplings are always arranged in straight lines, never circles, which symbolise stagnancy.
Sweet Rice Balls
Sweet rice balls are a symbol of family unity. They are the main food for China’s Lantern Festival – a celebration on the 15th day of the first month in the lunisolar calendar.
Usually falling in February or early March on the Gregorian calendar, it marks the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations. In the southern regions of China, people eat them throughout the Spring Festival.
Noodles unsurprisingly represent happiness and longevity. Their length and unsevered preparation are said to be symbolic of the eater’s life.
The “longevity” noodles are longer than normal noodles (uncut) and are either served boiled in a broth or fried on a plate.