Eat your fruits and vegetables, so they say. Falling on 22 January 2023, Chinese New Year marks the beginning of a new chapter and welcomes the year of the rabbit. A host of activities go into preparing for the festivities, and one must-do is getting fruits for the occasion. Besides being sweet and tangy delights, Chinese New Year fruits hold auspicious meanings and are eaten or given as gifts for good luck. Find out which ones you can’t get enough of.
Among the many fruits consumed over the holiday, citrus fruits take the helm. Citrus fruits like Lunar New Year oranges, mandarins, tangerines, and kumquats are known to bring good luck. Kumquat trees are notoriously seen in most places, like at the entrance of homes and shops, and are given as gifts as they’re believed to bring wealth and good luck. The round shape of these citrus fruits symbolises completeness and the yellow hue resembles the sun, bringing positivity and abundance. Pronunciation-wise, mandarins sound like “gold” (gum) and Chinese New Year oranges sound like “success” (chaang) in Cantonese. When gift-giving, keep in mind to never give things in four, as the number four sounds like death (sei).
A Lunar New Year fruit that’s prevalent in a Chinese New Year fruit basket is pomelo. Pomelos are seasonal fruits that ripen right before the festive holiday. Hence, these juicy fruits are symbolic of family unity. Pomelos share the same pronunciation as “have” when sounded out in Cantonese (yau), thus, these fruits also symbolise prosperity and abundance as to have something is enriching by nature. It only makes sense, then, that the more one consumes pomelo, the wealthier one becomes. Another shared pronunciation is for the Cantonese word “protect,” so eating the fruit offers families protection for the new year. Other auspicious meanings of pomelos include good health and fertility.
Pomegranates are sweet, tangy treats that go well as condiments with desserts or breakfast yogurts, but are also enjoyed on their own. They’re known for their many seeds when opened. And, when translated into Chinese auspicious terms, these many seeds have come to represent fertility. These are popular fruits given to newlyweds to encourage them to produce more offspring, and it’s also interesting to note that Buddha is often portrayed to be holding pomegranates. Other symbolic meanings for pomegranates include longevity and prosperity for their brilliant red colour.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away! One of the most desired wishes for the new year is for you and your loved ones to be safe and sound, staying out of harm’s way and misfortune. This is where apples come into play for the Lunar New Year. Apples represent harmony and peace because when they’re pronounced in Cantonese, they sound the same as the word for “peace” (ping). The more apples consumed, the more security granted. Apples can be found laid out on platters when visiting homes during the holiday. Green apples signify money while red apples signify prosperity and abundance.
In preparation for the Lunar New Year celebrations, remember to pick up a batch of cherries to top off your holiday. Similar to pomelos, cherries ripen just in time for Chinese New Year and have become an in-demand fruit during this particular time when large shipments are imported from countries, like Chile. Over time, cherries have become a status symbol in China and signify success. Its dark red colour also represents happiness and love. Cherries are the perfect fruits to share with your friends and family while reuniting and wishing each other great blessings.
Red dragonfruits are possibly considered one of the most auspicious fruits for Chinese New Year because for one, they’re red, and two, the word “dragon” is in their name. Both the colour red and the mythical animal dragons are known to symbolise good luck. Red dragonfruits have a beautiful red coat with pinkish hues, and are also known to represent beauty. Their mildly sweet flavour is also perfect as gifts to give to those who want to steer clear of sugar-high fruits. Enjoy these exotic fruits and have a prosperous new year!
Not only are they great in cocktails and pastries, but pineapples also hold a wealth of greatness when it comes to their symbolic meaning. The golden pineapple’s Chinese name sounds like “Wealth, come,” hence, to devour the fruit means to bring in loads of prosperity and abundance. In some Chinese households, notably in Singapore, families roll in the pineapple while shouting a phrase in Hokkien that means “to prosper,” and rather than eating the fruit, pineapples would be left under a tree to denote the continuous flow of prosperity. Alongside bringing in prosperity, pineapples are known to keep the sweetness in life flowing.
As with most Chinese New Year fruits we’ve seen, most of them, if not all, represent good luck. The same applies to persimmons. Persimmons bring good luck and symbolise longevity. It’s believed in Chinese tradition that this delectable fruit aligns with the saying about how everything goes according to your wishes. Persimmons also symbolize joy and are given as gifts to spread joy. They are eaten alone or featured in cakes as a relish. Eat more of the fruit, and the greater the chances that things will go in your favour.
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