Oranges come in abundance during Chinese New Year. You see loads of them almost everywhere! In general, they are lucky fruits that should be present in the lead up to Chinese New Year, but is there all that is to it? Why do we eat oranges during Chinese New Year?
As Chinese New Year draws closer bringing the whole community to life as we join in ushering in good health and a renewed sense of thriving together, it is a known fact too that the Asian culture itself are surrounded by plenty of symbolism. Whatever we present or express has its meaning and goes beyond tradition.
All about symbolism.
From the family gatherings, celebratory dishes that exist, and the tossing of yee shang, they all come in full symbolism. If you look closely on the dining table during Chinese New Year, you will find some common things. With ample variety of food on the table, there should be:
Dumplings (Jiao Zi), 饺子 – The dumplings are shaped like ingots (boat-like gold nuggets) and it symbolizes wealth. This can be explained by the gold and silver pieces that were forms of currency during ancient China times. Having the dumplings to resemble the ingots meant bringing prosperity to oneself—think about it, you are eating all this money!
Sweet glutinous rice cake (Nian Gao), 年糕 – Also referred as the “new year cake”, the nian gao is made of glutinous rice flour and/or sweet glutinous rice flour. Depending on the region, the nian gao can be served both sweet and savory. A nian gao is typically chewy and sticky in texture. Like how ‘nian’ translates to ‘year’, it is also a homophone for the word ‘sticky’ in Mandarin. Though varied in meaning, they are pronounced just the same. While ‘gao’ loosely refers to ‘high up’. Therefore, combining both ‘nian’ and ‘gao’, ‘nian gao’ symbolizes to reaching higher success.
Whole fish (Yú), 鱼 – One of the most symbolic dishes for Chinese New Year is undeniably the fish. You will see fish being prepared and served in diverse ways on the table. What makes it significant is that you have two words with two different Chinese characters that are pronounced in the exact manner. The pronunciation of ‘fish’ in Mandarin and many other dialects is ‘yú‘, which is the same pronunciation as ‘leftover’. This means that for every year, an abundance of good things come to you and there is left over for the next year too.
Even the Oranges come with symbolism.
Though most of us simply look forward to Chinese New Year for our family reunions, tasty food, and red envelopes, it is always nice to celebrate it in a meaningful manner and knowing what things signify during the festive season. Ever wondered why do we eat oranges during Chinese New Year?
We have talked about the dumplings, sweet glutinous rice cakes, and whole fish… and there is really a lot more! In this case, we will talk about the most traditional fruit that graces the table. The one element of this holiday that intrigues everyone—the abundance of oranges and citrus fruits popping up around the homes of relatives, family, friends, and Chinese shops in the lead up to the New Year.
In lieu of a full-on tree, the individual mandarin fruits should come with its stem and a few leaves attached. It is Not only is that a freshness indicator for the mandarin but it also represents wishes for a long life and fertility to the recipient. Leaf-on mandarins are also suitable as tabletop decor over Chinese New Year and they often accompany the traditional candy tray that is served to welcome guests in your home over the holidays.
So, who knew? Oranges, typically the tangerines (a specific type of mandarin orange), the same fruit that many eat or drink the juice of in their mornings, holds a desired spot in Chinese New Year proceedings! This Cantonese tradition is another instance with a play of similar-sounding words. The word for tangerine is 柑 (Gān), which sounds the same as a word that means ‘gold’ symbolizing good wealth and prosperity. Speaking of orange as a color, the orange hue of the fruit itself too is also said to symbolise ‘gold,’ which makes it a very auspicious fruit. Therefore, having these oranges during Chinese New Year is said to bring luck and riches into your life!
Make these Ong-Range Cookies!
Whether you believe it or not… It may well be just superstition, but the Chinese believe that tangerines are auspicious symbols of a better year ahead. With Chinese New Year coming up, everyone looks forward to the bright treats. What’s the celebration without some colorful cookies? This year, make it extra special by baking your own festive cookies. In fact, we have a special recipe for you to bring all that ‘ONG’ (prosperity) to your Chinese New Year celebration!
Prepared to resemble an actual orange, these Ong-Range Cookies are the perfect cookies you can think of serving to your Chinese New Year guests at home. This delicious cookie is filled with a delectable chocolate filling. Sandwiched between two orange sable doughs, these bright and colorful cookies are the perfect combination of orange punch and chocolatey sweetness. But wait, the chocolate is not just sweet, it also has a hint of savoriness to it. Making full use of our Rich’s Klasik Crème, these cookies won’t be your ordinary cookies! Be warned that these cookies are absolutely addictive and you may want to make more.
Rich’s Klasik Crème is a non-dairy whipping cream that is further enhanced with sea salt. It is known for its delightful salty flavor that adds a new dimension to your cakes, pastries, and breads as a topping, filling, and icing. You can read more about its specialties here.
Giving all the oranges to your loved ones.
That said, give those tangerines to the ones that matter during the celebration as a symbolic way to wish them all the happiness and prosperity. Since exchanging these citrus fruits when visiting one’s house has always been a form of respect and tradition, we can take this time to express how we feel about our loved ones. Having said that, its auspiciousness also makes it a crucial decorative item everywhere, such as homes, offices, shops, etc.
While exchanging gifts is a good habit to have, the main idea of Chinese New Year has always been to spend quality time with the people you love. You know, to meet, to catch up, to enjoy each other’s presence. And all these tangerines are a simple way of showing your appreciation and gratitude to the people you love—to wish them happiness, just as they have brought happiness to you!
What are your plans for Chinese New Year?
For those celebrating Chinese New Year, Rich Products Malaysia wishes you a warm and wonderful one with your loved ones. No matter what preparations you do for this year, we will continue to keep you inspired with the recipes, offerings, and solutions we have in hand to keep you on track for your festive goals. Here is wishing you a New Year that is abundant not only with wealth but also with wonderful memories!