Table of Contents
The list of the top lucky fruits to eat during the Lunar New Year according to the Chinese culinary tradition.
In Chinese culture, the word for apple, 苹果 (Ping guǒ), 苹 and 平 are homophones. Apple is a homophone for the word meaning peace or quiet, so an apple symbolizes a desire for security. Apples in the house indicate the hope of having a new year without problems and turmoil. The green apple represents money, the red apple symbolizes prosperity and abundance, while the golden apple is for harmony. As an essential fruit of the New Year, apples are usually placed in the living room to raise and call luck. If they have new green leaves, it represents new life and freshness.
Citrus fruits, 柑橘 属: Oranges 橘子, mandarins 蜜桔, kumquat 金橘 and pomelos 柚子, they offer good luck throughout the year. Some specific fruits are consumed more during the Chinese New Year period, such as mandarin oranges and pomelos. They are selected as they are particularly round and symbolize completeness and perfection and their color considered “golden” symbolizes abundance and wealth, but also because they have a lucky sound linked to the name or the way they are pronounced or how the characters are written. Eating and displaying oranges and tangerines is believed to bring good luck. The Cantonese Chinese pronunciation for oranges/mandarin sounds similar to the word for gold. In additions orange (and mandarin) 橙 (chéng / chnng) sounds similar to the Chinese word for “success” 成. One of the ways of writing mandarin 桔 (jú / jyoo) contains the Chinese character, that indicates fortune, 吉 (jí / jee). It’s considered a good omen during Chinese New Year, to offer a couple of oranges 桔子 to the elderly and respected guests during home visits. Upon departure, the hosts offer a couple of oranges in exchange. It’s good to keep in mind to not offer more or fewer oranges, since doubling the number would not be a good omen, due the number four in China is the number of bad luck, because it sounds like the word “death”. Even tangerines are always offered in pairs since, in tradition, everything is better when it comes as a couple and they are welcome too as a gift and exchange during a family visit, as a symbol of happiness and prosperity. Mandarin stems, in the Lunar New Year tradition also represent longevity, so keep them attached when they are showing up or peeling, reinforce the belief, and wish for good luck. Pomelos that are called (Yòu zǐ) are credited with the ability to bring continued prosperity to those who eat them, because the Chinese word for pomelo 柚 (yòu) sounds like “have” 有 (yǒu), except for the tone, which it’s exactly like “again” 又 (yòu), so the more they eat, the more wealth they bring. Pomelos are also a symbol of good health, fertility, and family unity. Pomelos are eaten on their own as a fruit, and/or used to make desserts. Another important meaning of pomelos is linked to the ripening season of this fruit, which occurs around the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, for this reason, pomelos are considered the symbol of family reunion. In Chinese, the word 柚 (yòu) sounds the same as the word 佑 which in English means “to protect”. Therefore, the Chinese eat pomelos during the Lunar New Year, because they hope that everything is fine in the New Year and that their families will be protected. On the shopping list for the Chinese New Year, a vase of kumquats is a well good luck option, since is considered to bring home and to call luck, happiness, prosperity, and new economic income as well symbolize union and harmony. In this period of the year, citrus fruits are abundant and everywhere in markets and shops. It’s important to remember that they are food that brings health, and are important for protecting the immune system by preventing its deterioration.
Grapes葡萄 (Pútáo) is a symbol of abundance since it’s usually offered in bunches, and therefore related to the harvest strengthens its symbolic value. It’s interpreted with the meaning that good luck will always accompany the one who is offered and eats the grains of a bunch. (In Spanish tradition, grapes take on a similar meaning, and for this reason, eating grapes on the evening of the last day of the year is to wish good luck for the new year) Whatever the color of the bunch is it’s always welcome.
Peaches 桃子 (Táozi), according to Chinese symbolism are good for longevity and immortality. It’s believed that whoever eats peaches regularly is a healthy person, so these fruits given to relatives and friends is a wish for a long and healthy life.
Pineapple菠萝 (Bōluó) in the Cantonese pronunciation Hokkien, Fujian dialect, “Wong Lai” or “Ong Lai” literally sounds like “the arrival of prosperity”. This fruit symbolizes wealth. Eating pineapple with loved ones or sweets that contain it, such as tarts or pastries, means wishing that prosperity is coming. In Singapore, it’s said that pineapple sweets and their sweet taste welcome sweetness into one’s life and the new year. This ritual is common in Chinese families in Southeast Asia, but it has achieved such popularity that it’s also adopted in Asia by other cultures to celebrate their holidays.
Pomegranates石榴 (Shíliú) are considered lucky fruits in China since they have numerous seeds interpreted as a symbol of fertility. Chinese, have always seen having many children and grandchildren, as a blessing, despite they have passed through the law of the one-child policy for each couple. Now, due to the change of customs and mentality of the new generations, which do not want to have kids, and therefore invited to have three children, to make up for the demographic decline, giving pomegranates to the newlyweds takes on a meaning that strengthens the wish of fertility, longevity, and prosperity. In addition, the bright color of yellow gold, orange and red further promote the appeal of good luck.
Sugar cane甘蔗(Gānzhè) is a lucky fruit mainly in the southern region of China. Its appearance is reminiscent of bamboo but mostly appreciated for its sturdy and articulated stems, which symbolize the promotion in one’s career and the improvement in life, work, that all people live a better life, thus implying their success. In Yunnan province, a couple of sugar canes are displayed on the sides of the door’s entrance, both as decoration and to call the incoming fortune in one’s home.
Watermelon 西瓜 (Xīguā) is a symbol of fertility in Chinese culture. The numerous seeds of the fruit represent wealth and prosperity, therefore also abundance.
Topics: fruit for the Chinese new year
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