For most of you who have any Chinese friends, you might have notice that your Chinese friend favours the number “8”. That’s because number “8” is pronounced “faat / 發” in Cantonese has the meaning of wealth. The obsession of homophone words towards good fortune is not only limited to numbers. During the 10 days of Chinese New Year celebration almost every type of food that’s presented on the table has to be homophonously related to some kind of good fortune. This is the principle for Chinese New Year “Foodition”. Let us name few special dishes/food as examples.
1: 湯圓 (Tāngyuán, Rice ball)
Sweet rice ball in soup is a must-have dessert for New Year’s Eve. The word “yuán” means “round” but it also sounds like “union”. In addition, the rice ball floating in the sweet clear broth looks like a bright moon hanging in the winter sky, which is a symbol of reunion, an auspicious meaning. Different regions serve different flavour rice balls, some can be savoury but we prefer the dessert rice ball.
Image credit: Limgs.cn
2: 年糕 (nián gāo, New Year Rice Cake)
Not having New Year Rice Cake for new year is like not having a turkey for Christmas. The word 年糕 literally means New Year rice cake. The word “gāo” also sounds like the word “Rise”. Chinese people have been having New Year Rice Cake for over two thousand years, because who doesn’t want their career, life or romance to “rise” throughout the year?
Image credit: impic
3: 蘿蔔糕 (lo4 baak6 gāo, Turnip cake)
Turnip cake is another delight for Chinese New Year. Cantonese people enjoy this dish so much that you can find it on regular dim sum restaurant menus. The main ingredient for this cake is a type of radish. In Chinese we call radish “chhài-thâu” and their colour is a homophone for “good fortune” hó-chhái-thâu” in Chinese. Chinese New Year is all about names/words/phrases that relate to good fortune, wealth, lucky, prosperity, etc…
Image credit: Chancedia
To celebrate the year of the snake with our team in Hong Kong and London, we’ve made some traditional turnip cake. To get our recipe for turnip cake, you can contact Emily: [email protected]
The homophone characteristic in Chinese New Year is only a small part of Chinese New Year tradition. This is just to give a taste of the New Year. Finally, Kung Hei Fat Choy and Happy Chinese New Year!