Chinese New Year

LIST: ‘Lucky food’ to prepare for Chinese New year, and why

Steph Arnaldo

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LIST: ‘Lucky food’ to prepare for Chinese New year, and why


Some of these 'lucky food' include round fruits, fish, and dumplings, which all signify good fortune and prosperity

MANILA, Philippines – Typically, to usher in the Lunar New Year, Chinese families prepare certain lucky food items for dinner to bring in good fortune and wealth for the year ahead. 

Find out why are these food items considered to be “lucky” and why:

Tikoy/Glutinous rice cake

One of the more common delicacies prepared (and one Filipinos are also very familiar with) is the white “tikoy.” Also called a glutinous rice cake or the “nian gao,” this sticky delight is usually served sweet in the North, and can be cooked with other ingredients. 

GLUTINOUS RICE CAKE. Photo from Shutterstock

This rice cake is served to signify “stickiness,” or rather, “closeness” among the family – a play on the phrase, “sticking together.”

Round fruits

Another CNY table must-have are round fruits – usually grapefruits, mandarin oranges, apples, melon, pomelo, and lychee – which signify wealth, because of their coin-like shape.

MANDARIN ORANGES. Photo from Shutterstock

These so-called “good fortune fruits” are believed to bring in “prosperity and luck to the family,” 25-year-old Janna Gabaldon, who was born in the Philippines and raised by traditional Chinese parents, told Rappler.

“We even prepare a specific number of round fruits on the table,” she said about her family’s annual Chinese New Year dinners.


A common main dish enjoyed for dinner is fish, a symbol of “surplus and fortune” and a sign of “bountiful harvest” ahead. Their fish is usually steamed or braised, and served as a whole, complete with the head.

FISH. Photo from Shutterstock

The kinds of fish and methods used used vary among regions and families, but they’re usually served with veggies, vinegar, a light broth, and “red chili peppers,” which signify a “hot, fiery,” and thriving business ahead. 


Long noodles or “misua” represent longevity and a long life for all the members of the family. Therefore, it is a must for everyone to partake in the night’s noodle dish (a practice Filipinos have also adopted during birthday parties).

LONGEVITY NOODLES. Photo from Shutterstock

They say that the “longer the noodle, the longer the life,” so absolutely no chewing and cutting of your noodles – just a whole lot of slurping. This is how “longevity noodles” are usually enjoyed.

How it’s cooked depends on the family – usually, the dish includes a variety of meats, vegetables, spices, peppers, tofu, and eggs.


These tiny, tasty packages of meat, vegetables, and spices are served during Chinese New Year to symbolize “wealth, fortune, and prosperity.”

DUMPLINGS. Photo from Shutterstock

It is said that they are shaped like “ancient Chinese silver and gold ingots,” or bars. As you wrap the dumplings, you wrap in riches, and as you eat them, you are literally taking in a new, “more prosperous” life ahead.

Dumplings are also called “pot stickers,” and are usually steamed or pan-fried. Some family traditions even involve placing a random gold coin inside one of the dumplings – whoever gets the special dumpling on their plate gets extra luck for that year! –

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.