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Dumplings Recipe for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Dumplings
Photo by Kankana Saxena
It is common knowledge that dumplings are considered to be lucky and are eaten for the Chinese New Year (lunar calendar), usually celebrated in February. But have you ever wondered why? “My mother is from Hong Kong,” says home cook Andrew Schrage, co-owner of MoneyCrashers.com, a financial fitness blog, “so I have always been very superstitious and cognizant of Chinese traditions. I’ve heard that the shape of dumplings resembles the gold coins of ancient China, symbolizing prosperity.”

Schrage says making dumplings was serious business in his family when he was growing up, and for the longest time only his mother was allowed to do it. “It was only after a lot of practice that my older brother or I would be allowed to help prepare the dumplings for our New Year’s meal. It was almost a rite of passage,” he says. Though it is traditional to make dumplings for New Year’s celebrations, Schrage enjoys eating them so much that now he makes them year-round.

Chef Chris Yeo serves a delicate array of dim sum at his restaurant Sino in San Jose, California, and says, “Dim sum, a type of dumpling, means ‘a little something from the heart’ and symbolizes fortune and good luck. They are small and shaped like coins, further emphasizing the good luck symbol.” He adds that dumplings resemble the ingots that once were China’s currency, so eating them brings hope of an auspicious and fortunate year. Some cooks stuff a lump of sugar in a dumpling to ensure sweetness! And there is even a tradition of hiding a coin in a dumpling now and then. “If you don’t break a tooth [when you eat the coin-filled dumpling], you are considered lucky for the year,” says Yeo.

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The Luckiest Food to Eat in January

Lucky Food to Eat in January
Photo by Kankana Saxena
What did you eat to welcome in the New Year? If it was pork and sauerkraut, then consider yourself blessed with good luck in the coming year! Many people around the world, including in Hungary, Germany, Czech Republic and other countries in those parts of Europe, believe that eating pig on New Year’s Eve brings good luck. Why? Unlike cows and chickens, pigs kick forward so they will take you forward in the New Year!

If you grew up in parts of Pennsylvania or the Midwest, you may have experienced this tradition firsthand. According to Casey Barber, author of the forthcoming Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats (Ulysses Press), pork with sauerkraut is a staple in any community with a historically prominent Eastern European or German immigrant population. Pork and cabbage symbolize riches and prosperity for a New Year. “The pig,” she adds, “does double duty to stand for progress as a forward-rooting and forward-thinking animal.”

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