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Lucky CNY Foods To Ensure A Smooth New Year (& What To Say For Maximum Prosperity)

Lucky CNY Foods To Ensure A Smooth New Year (& What To Say For Maximum Prosperity)

If you’re eating your fill during Chinese New Year, better make sure you’re eating for maximum ong!

Anne Dorall

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Chinese New Year is right around the corner, which means that it’s time to eat your fill and have festive greetings ready at any time!

While eating is easy, did you know that there are actually meanings behind all your yummy favourites?

Chinese culture uses a lot of homophones, meaning different words with different meanings that sound the same. (You can even think of them as “Chinese puns”.) As a result, there are plenty of auspicious sayings and food pairings that go well together because they sound alike!

Here are some of the top picks so you can impress your friends and family with flawless greetings this CNY!

1. Nian nian you yu 年年有余 For Fish

Fish may seem like an odd choice for a festive food, but it’s actually one of the most popular and well-known symbols of prosperity.

The Mandarin pronounciation for fish (yu) sounds the same as “leftover”, which means abundance in this context. Hence, the full saying nian nian you yu is a wish meaning “may you have plenty of abundace every year”,

Hence why you will often get a main course of steamed or fried whole fish.

2. Yuan yuan zheng zheng 圆圆整整 For Whole Chicken

Yuan yuan zheng zheng literally means whole or complete. ‘Yuan’ here means round or circle, and is often used to represent reunions (tuan yuan), where families sit together at a round table.

In Chinese cultures, it’s very important to keep things unbroken, especially when it comes to family relationships. Hence, serving and eating a whole chicken together as a family acts as a visual signifier of togetherness.

A whole roast chicken to be shared with family.
(Credit: Envato)

PS. Chicken feet is also given the fancy name 凤爪 (feng zhao) which literally translates to phoenix’s claws. These are usually given to the head of the household so that they can “hold on to prosperity”.

3. Da ji da li 大吉大利 For Mandarin Oranges

Mandarin oranges are called ju zi, sounding similar to the Mandarin word for fortune or luck (ji). But actually, the citrus fruit is very closely tied with the idea of fortune for other reasons too.

In Cantonese, the word for mandarin oranges is gam, which is also a homophone for the Cantonese word for gold.

Shiny, round, and sweet!
(Credit: Envato)

Not only that, the bright round shapes are also similar to the golden round coins symbolizing money!

READ MORE: Why Mandarin Oranges Are Given Out At CNY & Surprise Twist: They Aren’t “Oranges”

4. Gong xi fa cai 恭喜发财 For Rice Cake

Fa gao is something like a cupcake, if the cupcake was made with rice flour, steamed in a little ceramic teacup, and sports spongey splits on the top. Malaysian ones tend to be dyed pink for a little more colour, but fa gao is pretty simple as far as sweet treats go.

The fa in fa gao is– you guessed it– the same word as the fa in ‘fa cai‘, or ‘grow fortune’. Hence why the cake is sometimes also known as ‘fortune cake’.

The big splits are a key characteristic of the fortune cake.
(Credit: Facebook)

5. Sin Ni Heng Ong 新年兴旺 For Pineapples

Chinese New Year also means pineapple tarts! But have you ever wondered why the prickly acidic tropical fruit became so closely associated with the festivities?

Technically, the relation is based on the Hokkien dialect, not Mandarin. The Hokkien name for pineapple is ong lai, which actually literally translates to ‘prosperity comes’!

(And that prosperity comes in the shape of delicious pineapple tarts!)

Fresh pineapple tarts hit different during CNY. Especially if you’re fighting your family members for them.
(Credit: TRP)

6. Yi Fan Feng Shun 一帆风顺 For Carlsberg Smooth Draught

After the past few years of exciting happenings, I’m sure everyone is ready for a smooth, calm year instead.

That’s exactly what yi fan feng shun means: smooth sailing. Shun means smooth, but it is also used in the term shun li, meaning success!

So for a successful and smooth year, try our the Carlsberg Smooth Draught for a light and silky smooth journey (on your tastebuds).

Plus, because of how smooth and light the CSD is, it will pair perfectly with any CNY snacks or food you want to munch on for a truly smooth and prosperous new year!

The Carlsberg Smooth Draught design wishes you a smooth year ahead, complete with sails!
(Credit: Etta Fok/TRP)

7. BONUS FATT! Fu Shou An Kang 福寿安康 For Carlsberg Danish Pilsner

You thought we were done with beer? Not yet, just like how the Carslberg Danish Pilsner isn’t done with us!

Fu shou an kang basically means prosperous longevity, in celebration of living a well-lived, full life.

It sounds very much like the Carlsberg Danish Pilsner, which is the brand’s most established line of beer! In fact, the pilsner has been around since 1904, and their beer is still brewed with their original recipe when the company was founded in Denmark!

To make it super easy for you to wish your family and friends both smooth sailing and prosperous longevity, the new Carlsberg can designs for Chinese New Year are decked out with well-wishes.

The Carlsberg Danish Pilsner bottle wishes you longevity on their special can design.
(Credit: Etta Fok/TRP)

This way, you can literally bring home smoothness and longevity!

Not only that, Carlsberg is also rewarding you with lots of gifts and prizes anytime you buy any Carlsberg drink! There are plenty of promotions during the festive season, including cash prizes, free gifts and more!

Everyone loves cash.
(Credit: Carlsberg Malaysia)

In fact, Carlsberg is giving away RM888 and RM88 cash Ang Pows this CNY, so make sure to check your bottle cap when you enjoy big bottles of Carlsberg beers, because you just might be one of the 6,000 lucky winners!

There are plenty of other free gifts and promotions as well, so head over to the Carlsberg website and check it out!

Happy Chinese New Year!


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