Merrimack Valley Life

EATING OUR WAY THROUGH THE YEAR OF THE OX


Oranges represent good fortune because the Chinese word for orange sounds like the word for success.

Oranges represent good fortune because the Chinese word for orange sounds like the word for success.

The Year of the Ox arrived on February 12 without the big bang that typically marks the start of the 15-day Chinese Lunar New Year celebration. The occasion is normally a chaotic, loud and busy time of year. Families gather from near and far for special meals. Children collect lucky red money packets from their elder relatives. Crowds descend upon the packed streets of the local Chinatown to purchase decorations and groceries and to get a glimpse of the popular Chinese lion and dragon dance parades as they approach with their loud drums and gongs to scare away bad luck. But due to the pandemic, all went quiet this year.

Although COVID-19 has made this Chinese New Year different, our family has embraced and focused on the rich Chinese New Year food traditions by eating our way through the start of the Year of the Ox. These traditions focus on welcoming good luck and mainly concentrate on food items that symbolize prosperity, health and abundance.

Listed below are several foods that are believed will bring a prosperous new year. Here’s to a great Year of the Ox!

A Year of the Ox feast for a prosperous year.

A Year of the Ox feast for a prosperous year.

• A whole fish represents abundance,
because the word for fish in Chinese
sounds like the word for surplus. It is
believed that you should leave some fish
leftover from your meal to signify abundance year after year.
• A whole chicken represents family
wholeness, togetherness and completeness. • Chinese dumplings and spring rolls
represent wealth due to their shape.
Dumplings are shaped like gold or silver
ingots, and spring rolls are shaped like
gold bars.
• Long noodles represent longevity and
happiness, so the longer your noodles
are, the longer and happier your life will
be. Noodles can be served stir-fried or in
soup. Just be sure not to cut them!

• Rice cakes represent a higher income
or higher position, advancement or better year based on the Chinese words in
the name. These sweet and sticky treats
are made from glutinous rice and brown
sugar that is then steamed. They are often
given as gifts during the New Year celebration

Chinese dumplings look like gold ingots and represent wealth. Chinese long noodles represent a long life.

Chinese dumplings look like gold ingots and represent wealth. Chinese long noodles represent a long life.

as a wish for a sweet year.
• Oranges and tangerines represent
good luck and good fortune, based on the
Chinese word for orange, which sounds
like the word for success, and the Chinese word for tangerine, which sounds
like the word for gold.

Shown left: the Leung family—(from left) Andrew, Mike, Nick, Russell and Sue-Lynn —enjoys one of several Chinese New Year meals during the 15-day celebration. Haverhill Life photos by Sue-Lynn Leung

Shown left: the Leung family—(from left) Andrew, Mike, Nick, Russell and Sue-Lynn —enjoys one of several Chinese New Year meals during the 15-day celebration. Haverhill Life photos by Sue-Lynn Leung

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