Meanings Behind the Chinese New Year Foods

Posted on by Chemin Chu

To provide a fun and educational experience for our students, Yinghua will continue its tradition of celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year. At 15 days, the Chinese New Year celebration is the longest Chinese holiday. During this time, Chinese families gather over meals of traditional foods and engage in activities that have auspicious and symbolic meanings in the hopes of bringing good fortune for the coming year. The Chinese animal zodiac is a repeating cycle of twelve years, with each year being represented by an animal and its reputed attributes.
This year is the year of the yáng (羊), which is generally translated as “sheep,” “goat,” or “ram” in English. Sheep were very important to the ancient Chinese and became to be seen as very auspicious animals, symbolizing prosperity. We look forward to another year of success for Yinghua, its students, and their families! Please note the following important dates for this year’s Chinese New Year activities at Yinghua.

February 20
Ms. Berg and Dr. Lien will hand out a red envelope (hong bao) with a gold-coin chocolate to each student this Friday. During the Chinese New Year, children and unmarried young adults often receive red envelopes containing money as a gift from their parents, grandparents, and even close friends and neighbors. It’s also not uncommon for adults to give red envelopes to their elderly parents.
February 23
Ms. Berg and Dr. Lien will go to every classroom to hand out an apple and an orange to each student and wish the student good luck and peace. The orange symbolizes good fortune, while the Chinese word for apple is píng (苹), which is a homonym of the Chinese word for peace: píng (平).
February 24th and February 25th
The school will serve dumplings to the students. Chinese dumplings—jiaozi (饺子)—is a classic Chinese food that is commonly served during Chinese New Year due to the fact that the dumpling’s shape looks like that of a traditional Chinese gold ingot and is therefore associated with wealth. Please note that your student can choose either a pork or vegetarian dumpling—or opt out—on the day of serving. Your student simply needs to let Helen, the Food Service Coordinator, know when the dumplings are served.
February 27th
On February 27th, the students will be treated to a traditional Chinese Lion Dance. In China, the lion signifies courage, stability, and superiority. A lion dance is performed by two dancers, one at the head of the lion and one at the tail. The lion dance is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a dragon dance. An easy way to distinguish between the two is that a lion is normally operated by two dancers, while a dragon involves many people in a long serpentine shape. Traditionally, the lion’s dance was performed to chase away ghosts and evil spirits. Therefore, clashing cymbals, a gong, and drums usually accompany this lively performance. The music follows the moves of the lion.
February 28th
On the day of the Chinese New Year performance at Bethel University, teachers will give each student a “lucky candy” as a treat. Eating sweets during the Lunar New Year is encouraged as it represents bringing sweet happenings to one’s life and it starts the new year on a sweet note.

Xie Xie! Special thanks to the following for making this all possible:

  • Heather Fokken (parent of Anika Fokken, 1C)
  • Jill Griffiths (parent of JiaXin, 5B)
  • Tanya Hinton (parent of Madison Hinton, 2B)
  • Ming Fong Ho (parent of Kaelyn Ng, 1B)
  • Wynee Igel (parent of Jacqueline Igel 2A & Caitlin Igel, 5C)
  • Monica Seabloom (parent of John Seabloom 1C & Mary Kay Seabloom 4A)
  • May Yang (Calista Yang 4A & Timothy Yang 8A)
  • Bill Francois, Facility Manager
  • Helen Hindrawati, Food Service Coordinator
  • Ha Family Lion Dance Troupe
  • May’s Market
  • Panda Garden
  • Sysco Asian Foods
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