One of the main components of the Chinese New Year is food and cookies, with many of the customs and rituals centered around the several breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that Chinese families get together for.
When bottles and tins of pineapple tarts, love letters, peanut cookies and prawn rolls become visible around every corner, stacked from floor to ceiling, you know that the Chinese New Year is here. The festive atmosphere, the spring cleaning, the spectacular fireworks, the aromas of different dishes in the air— all of it is part of welcoming the new year. And what adds to the festive mood are some homemade fortune cookies. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Let’s learn more about the significance of these goodies often served during Chinese New Year. While some of these get their meaning from homonyms, others carry symbolic meaning based on their resemblance. Here’s our pick of top five Chinese New Year goodies:
1. Pineapple Tarts
The symbolism of pineapple tarts lies in its Hokkien word for pineapple, “ong lai”, which translates to “the arrival of prosperity or good fortune”. During Chinese New Year, serving any type of sweet dessert is encouraged since it represents ushering a sweet life into the new year. The Hokkiens also believe that some fruits are lucky, and they especially enjoy pineapple, known as ong lai in Hokkien, which literally translates to "fortune coming." Many new pineapple tart flavors, like earl grey, have emerged in modern times. strawberry flavor or matcha flavor.
2. Bak Kwa
It's red, which is considered to be a lucky hue and also represents a "strong future." Therefore, you wish for people to have a wonderful, fortunate, and robust year when you purchase bak kwa or serve bak kwa to them. Be sure to chew on one or two pieces of this decadent, delicious, and flavorful meat before turning in for the day, even if you're health conscious. It is considered a Hokkien delicacy as it originated from Fujian province where the consumption of meat was considered a luxury usually reserved for Chinese New Year. Bak Kwa has a similar taste as jerky, but bak kwa in Singapore essentially tastes like sweet BBQ pork, In these days, many flavourful flavours have emerged and our favourite would be honey Bak Kwa!
3. Love Letters
Out of all the Chinese New Year goodies, the love letter is definitely one of the most poetic. Back in the day, these romantic pastries were often used by lovers to relay messages of affection and the consumption of the pastry would mean that the message is taken to heart. Also known as kuih kapit, they are rumored to have served as a means of communication for lovers in the past. Eating the heartfelt message was also seen as a sign that the lover's words were taken to heart. The message's edible quality ensured the absence of proof. As the story goes, these letters were rolled into the wafers as a way for secret lovers to communicate in the past. Consuming the wafers also represents the idea that the lover’s words were taken to heart.
4. Prawn Rolls
Prawns in Cantonese is “ha” which sounds like laughter, hence eating prawns during Chinese New Year represents happiness. The golden colour and shape are meant to evoke imagery of gold bars. Spring rolls are considered to symbolise prosperity, while shrimp and prawns are said to symbolize luck and happiness. The roll's design is intended to conjure images of gold bars.
5. Traditional Peanut Cookies
In Mandarin, the word for peanuts is, which also stands for longevity and good health. The word "life" is included in this sentence, so when you serve it at your home, you are wishing the recipient a long and happy life. Peanut cookies are these fragrantly, blatantly nutty cookies. They’re made of peanuts, ground and pounded into a fine powder, kneaded into a cookie dough along with flour and sugar, then rolled into thumb-sized balls that are baked till golden. They fall apart at the softest bite, coats your tongue and teeth with its toasty nuttiness, and gives you the same satisfaction as eating peanut butter straight out of the jar, minus the judgement. So delicious!
6. Kueh Bangkit
The Kueh Bangkit is one particular cookie to crumble, just like most Nonya meals. The name, which means "to rise," came from how the cookies would rise during baking. Depending on the texture and recipe, substances like coconut milk and pandan are combined with flours like arrowroot, tapioca, or sago.
Did you know that these mouthwatering treats were originally altar gifts used to revere the ancestors? These tapioca cookies are shaped differently and represent different things. Chrysanthemums, for example, represent luck, and cookies in the shape of goldfish, prosperity.
7. Butter Cookies
One of many people's favorite Chinese New Year snacks is butter cookies! It is delicious and dangerously addictive. Butter cookies are soft inside, almost melting in your mouth, with a bit of crispy texture on the outside, buttery and rich. They are great alongside morning tea or coffee or simply as a snack.
Many of the foods eaten by Chinese families over Lunar New Year have special significance, believed to bring luck, prosperity and good fortune for the year ahead. Favourites including cookies dumplings, noodles and spring rolls are eaten to guarantee luck and prosperity for the year ahead. Let us know which is your favroutie Chinese New Year snacks!