6 Inauspicious foods to avoid this Chinese New Year for good luck
Picky eating is excused this season
Food has a long and symbolic history throughout all of Asia, especially during traditional festivities. Chinese New Year is certainly no different, with a list of foods that are said to help ring in a prosperous new year, and others that do the opposite. Whether or not you’re personally superstitious, it's worth taking note of these beliefs as a sign of respect. Times have changed though, so we say take these with a pinch of salt. If you happen to really enjoy any of these foods but want to err on the side of caution this Tiger new year, don’t worry, for you can continue to enjoy them after Chinese New Year worry-free!
While chicken is a rather common ingredient in many Chinese dishes regardless of the occasion, there is a belief that it shouldn’t be eaten during Chinese New Year as the bird scratches backwards. This is said to signify dwelling in the past and an inability to move forward into the new, or that you’re scraping by for a living. Seeing as the new year is the opportune time to welcome abundance and prosperity, perhaps skipping the chicken this year is the safer choice to make.
Considered a delicacy in many places around the world, lobster is a food that many associate with special occasions. However, it may be best to keep it off the dining table on Chinese New Year and indulge in other foods. This is because the lobster swims backwards, and eating it during the new year period is believed to cause setbacks and inconveniences throughout the rest of the year. Luckily, the myth doesn’t seem to extend to other shellfish, so you may consume those as per usual while steering clear of any lobsters served.
Congee or savoury rice porridge is a staple in many Asian cultures where it's regarded as comfort food. In China and for many Chinese people around the world, congee is often eaten for breakfast. However, serving congee for breakfast on Chinese New Year is seen as taboo based on the history of the dish. In olden times, the dish was associated with poverty as it was typically all that the poor could afford. Thus, eating congee on Chinese New Year morning could invite bad luck related to wealth and finances, and that’s something no one wants to risk. It's also a white-coloured food, a no-no that's next on this list.
4) White foods
It’s well-known that red is the colour of good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture, seen everywhere during Chinese New Year in order to bring in good fortune. On the other hand, white is an unlucky colour as it symbolises death, and so you may find that it is discouraged to serve and eat white foods during the festive season. This includes tofu, eggs, white bread and cheeses just to name a few. No one wants to welcome death into the house, so if you’re cooking or ordering food for this year’s reunion meal, perhaps consider serving more auspicious colours. P.S: Red, yellow, and green are considered the luckiest colours in Chinese tradition.
5) Cut or broken noodles
Good news: You won’t have to retire your love for noodles anytime soon, not even temporarily for Chinese New Year. What you might want to be mindful of, however, is that if noodles are part of your new year’s feast, they should not be cut or broken. A common Chinese superstition at any time of the year, cutting noodles is said to shorten one’s lifespan. In fact, long noodles known as ‘Longevity Noodles’ are eaten all across China during Chinese New Year to symbolise a long, healthy life. So remember to keep any new year’s noodles long to enjoy a longer, happier life.
While pears may normally be a sweet, refreshing treat, it is not recommended to share this fruit with loved ones this Chinese New Year. This is because the word for pear in Chinese sounds the same as the Chinese word for ‘leave’. Giving someone a pear during festive occasions is seen as a symbol of parting and saying ‘goodbye’, and it's believed to bring negative effects on relationships with friends and family. While gifting fruit is a common occurrence in Asian culture, and it's an easy way to wish someone well and show good intentions during Chinese New Year, maybe leave pears out of it and instead opt for oranges, tangerines or pomelos, which are all fruits associated with good luck during this time of the year.
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