Lunar New Year Celebrations Spotlight Produce

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Fri. February 12th, 2021 - by Lilian Diep

SACRAMENTO, CA - Lunar New Year is a time for celebrating. Whether it be celebrating health, family, or the spirit of the occasion, many Southeast Asian countries look forward to the start of the Lunar New Year as a symbol for new beginnings and a reflection of fond memories. Regardless of the country of origin, I can speak for many that nothing ties bonds stronger than food.

Lunar New Year is a time to celebrate, with fresh produce as the star, as seen by these apples with ‘Blessing’ printed on the front meant to be given as a gift

Food is symbolic across every culture, and it takes a central role in Lunar New Year celebrations. My family draws on our Chinese and Vietnamese heritage, and I gotta say, our family sure loves to cook up a storm. Various veggies, succulent meats, and a bevy of fresh fruit come out to play leading up to and during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Before today, the start of the new lunar calendar, my family has traded boxes of oranges, zung (glutinous rice cake wrapped in banana leaves), citrus plants, and auspicious apples—and that’s just the beginning.

Family gatherings take place throughout the Lunar New Year holiday with most dinner plates symbolizing luck, health, or success

Family gatherings take place throughout the 16-day holiday. Preparations take all day to bring together a dinner feast that can spread across two or three tables. I must repeat, there are multiple days throughout the holiday where my family gets together for our feasts. Dishes can include:

  • Steamed bok choy or choy sum
  • Braised shiitake mushrooms
  • Red jujube (dried red dates) cakes
  • Spring or egg rolls (sometimes both!)
  • Braised fish
  • Chinese steamed chicken
  • Roasted duck
  • Chinese egg cakes
  • Longevity noodles
  • Ginger scallion lobster
  • Crispy pork
  • Fish maw soup

Steamed glutinous jujube cakes are something to look forward to every year as a snack passed around to each household

Each year has its own elemental aspect too, in addition to the representative animal. There are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. As this year marks the beginning of the Year of the Metal Ox, some things to know for those born in 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, and 2021 are:

  • Lucky numbers are 1 and 4, unlucky numbers are 5 and 6
  • Lucky flowers are peach blossoms and tulips
  • Lucky colors are white, yellow, and green whereas blue is unlucky
  • Famous people include Barack Obama, Vincent Van Gogh, Walt Disney, and Margaret Thatcher

2021 marks the Year of the Metal Ox, one of the 12 animal zodiacs in the lunar calendar

However you celebrate Lunar New Year in your household, you can’t go wrong with fresh produce at the center of the plate. So bring in some luck this year with close family and friends, and celebrate with ANUK as we cover more holidays.