Besides a time for vacations, big sales and a much less populated/much more comfortable Beijing, Chinese New Year 春节 (chūn jié) is also a time for FOOD! Chinese New Year food is referred to as 过年饭菜 (guònián fàncài). If you have (good) local friends, look forward to feasts with their families that may include:
Chicken, duck, and fish – traditionally eaten at celebrations because in the old days, meat was very expensive and only eat on special occasions. Expect a lot of delicious stewed meat if you’re in the north.
The first day of the new lunar year is called 初一 (chūyī, lit. beginning-one, i.e. the first day of the first month of the lunar year. This year, it’s February 14) and it is traditionally a day for eating dumplings 餃子 (jiǎo zi).
On 初二 (chū èr), noodles are eaten (at least in Beijing). The good news is on 初五 (chū wǔ), 餃子 (jiǎo zi) are eaten again. Personally, I have a tradition where I eat 餃子 (jiǎo zi) on the days in the week that end with “y”. It is, without a doubt, a fantastic tradition. 餃子 (jiǎo zi) are filled with combinations of different types of ground meat, vegetables, tofu, egg, and even bean thread noodles. You can dip them in vinegar, soy sauce, or both, and each family prepares the dipping sauce differently. 餃子 (jiǎo zi) can be boiled, steamed, or fried.
正月十五 (zhēng yuè shíwǔ) on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar year, Chinese eat glutinous rice dumplings 元宵 (yuánxiāo). They are made with rice flour and are usually white and round. Sweet 元宵 (yuánxiāo) is more common and have hawberry, black sesame, red bean, peanut, dried fruit, or sugar as filling. Some also eat salty 元宵 (yuánxiāo) which are filled with meat. If remembering what to eat on what days is too confusing, just make friends with a local and eat whatever your local friend’s family gives you on that day. Alternatively, you can click here to get a basic understanding of the Chinese lunar calendar. Or check out mandarintools.com for a Western-to-Chinese calendar converter.
(zhùnǐmen chūnjié kuàilè, niánnián gāo shēng)
We wish you a happy Spring Festival, and may each and every year get better and better!