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   2015-05-29 16:58:24    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Qin Mei

Is there any major holiday that isn't celebrated with a special festive food? Given the important role food plays in Chinese culture, it is not surprising that many foods have symbolic meaning. The symbolic significance of a food may be based on its appearance or on how the Chinese word for it sounds. Here are several symbolic Chinese foods:

1. jī dàn 鸡蛋 Eggs

Eggs hold a special symbolic significance in many cultures, and China is no exception. The Chinese believe eggs symbolize fertility. After a baby is born, parents may hold a "red egg and ginger party," where they pass out hard boiled eggs to announce the birth. (In some regions of China the number of eggs presented depends on the sex of the child: an even number for a girl, and an odd number if a boy has been born).

2. miàn tiáo 面条 Noodles

Noodles are a symbol of longevity in Chinese culture. They are as much a part of a Chinese birthday celebration as a birthday cake with lit candles is in many countries. Since noodles do symbolize long life, it is considered very unlucky to cut up a strand.

3. yú 鱼 Fish

Although westerners sometimes balk at the sight of a entire fish lying on a plate, in China a fish served whole is a symbol of prosperity. In fact, at a banquet it is customary to serve the whole fish last, pointed toward the guest of honor. Fish also has symbolic significance because the Chinese word for fish, yu, sounds like the word for riches or abundance, and it is believed that eating fish will help your wishes come true in the year to come.

4. yā 鸭 Duck

If you are ever invited to a Chinese wedding banquet, don't be surprised to spot a mouthwatering platter of Peking duck on the banquet table. Ducks represent fidelity in Chinese culture. Also, red dishes are featured at weddings as red is the color of happiness. (You'll find them served at New Year's banquets for the same reason.)

5. jī 鸡 Chicken 

In Chinese culture, chicken forms part of the symbolism of the dragon and phoenix. At a Chinese wedding, chicken's feet (sometimes referred to as phoenix feet) are often served with dragon foods such as lobster. Chicken is also popular at Chinese New Year, symbolizing a good marriage and the coming together of families (serving the bird whole emphasizes family unity).
在中华文化中,鸡是组成龙和凤凰的一部分。在中式婚礼上,鸡爪(有时被称为凤爪)通常和与龙有关的食物(比如龙虾)一起被奉上 。鸡也是中国新年庆祝的一部分,象征婚姻美满和家庭团聚(整鸡更强调家庭团圆)。

6. zhǒng zi 种子(莲子,西瓜籽等)Seeds (lotus seeds, watermelon seeds, etc)

Visit an Asian bakery during the Chinese New Year, and you're likely to find a wide assortment of snacks with different types of seeds in them. The seed-filled treats represent bearing many children in Chinese culture.

7. shuǐ guǒ 水果——桔子,橙子和柚子 Fruit - Tangerines, Oranges and Pomelos

Tangerines and oranges are passed out freely during Chinese New Year as the words for tangerine and orange sound like luck and wealth, respectively. As for pomelos, this large ancestor of the grapefruit signifies abundance, as the Chinese word for pomelo sounds like the word for "to have."
中国春节时候人们会赠送桔子和橙子,因为这两种水果的说法分别象征着吉祥和财富。 大个头柚子是葡萄柚的原种,象征着丰富,因为其中文发音和“有”接近。

8. gāo diǎn 糕点Cake

And what about the sweet, steamed cakes that are so popular during the Chinese New Year season? Cakes such as Sticky Rice Cake have symbolic significance on many levels. Their sweetness symbolizes a rich, sweet life, while the layers symbolize rising abundance for the coming year. Finally, the round shape signifies family reunion.

9. shū cài 蔬菜 Don't Forget the Vegetables!

Chinese garlic chives symbolize eternity, while cone-shaped winter bamboo shoots are a symbol of wealth.

Do not disregard the dish—it is more than just, simply food combination. Bear in mind the culture elements—appreciate the blessing within.

10. tè sè zhōng guó cài 特色中国菜Symbolic Recipes

Here are recipes featuring symbolic Chinese food for you to enjoy:

Kung Pao Chicken
gōng bǎo jī dīng  宫保鸡丁

Longevity Noodles
cháng  shòu miàn 长寿面

Peking Duck
běi jīng kǎo yā 北京烤鸭

Red Cooked Chicken
chá xiāng jī 茶香鸡

Sweet and Sour Fish
táng cù yú  糖醋鱼

Tea Eggs
chá yè dàn 茶叶蛋

(Source: cultural-china)



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