So Christmas is over, the New Year is here and now… the hottest and reddest season is coming… In less than 3 WEEKS, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? It’s time to listen to dong dong qiang music all day & face those annoying boyfriend/girlfriend questions from our “yi ma gu jie” (aka the aunties).

But Chinese New Year is more than that! There are many traditions and customs that should be practiced during Chinese New Year. But let’s be honest — apart from collecting Ang Paus and dressing up in Red, there are many traditions that us millennials may not know anymore.

So today I wanted to share some of the CNY traditions which I’ve learned from my mom (aka Mama Kim) who is pretty much the expert in this topic! Trust me when I say she is the expert. Ask her anything about Chinese New Year and you will get all the answers you need lol.

#1 Go Vegetarian on the First Day of CNY

The first day of Chinese New Year is a day of purification so we have to skip the meat and go vegetarian! Having vegetarian dishes helps to purify and cleanse out the body. It is also a sign of honor to the Buddhist tradition that no living thing should be killed on the first day of the New Year. Plus when we go meatless, it is believed to enhance longevity!

Photo credit: Chowhund https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/buddhas-delight-jai-29362

Fun fact: My brother and I use to stock up maggi noodles & biscuits ‘cause we tend to get hungry by noon. We are really hungry ghosts (I don’t even know if we can mention the word ghost, oops).

#2 Always fill your rice bowl TWICE

I used to be a small eater when I was younger or maybe I just didn’t like eating rice. But during family reunion dinner, I’ll always be forced to fill my rice bowl for another round after the first one because having the second bowl of rice symbolizes additional luck and wealth.

Photo credit: Hinode Rice https://www.hinoderice.com/transforming-chinese-new-year-traditions-with-hinode-rice/

Back then, my meal can end up to an hour because I was trying to stall time and hope that everyone forgets about my rice. That was until my cousin taught me a trick! She told me to finish half of the rice in the bowl and act as if I have finished them. Then, run to the kitchen to refill bit and act as if I’ve got my second bowl of rice HAHAHA 😉  I’ve been doing this for many years now (I hope you’re not reading this, mom)

#3 Cannot miss out on the MUST serve dish

In every meal, there are a few dishes that MUST be served as each one of them carry a significant symbolic meaning. For instance, a prawn dish symbolises “xiao ha ha” (happiness)

Photo credit: JewelPie http://jewelpie.com/5-super-simple-recipes-for-a-complete-reunion-dinner/

Black Moss Seaweed (Fat Choy) symbolizes wealth

Photo credit: The Woks of Life https://thewoksoflife.com/2016/02/dried-oyster-black-moss/

And Noodles symbolizes a wish for longevity. Quick tip from Mama Kim: You should not snip off your noodles half way because this means your lives will be shorten.

Photo credit: NYT Cooking https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1013451-longevity-noodles-with-chicken-ginger-and-mushrooms

#4 Always serve the meat dishes as a WHOLE

When we were doing food tasting with a new Picha chef for Chinese New Year, we were served us a Roasted Duck dish without the head or feet (Yes, Picha is serving duck this year!). It didn’t cross our mind that serving it this way would be disrespectful during Chinese New Year… until I called my mum.

“Ma, must we attach the head and feet to the duck?”

And she instantly replied , “OFFF COUUUURRSSSEEEEEEE”. Because serving the duck as a whole meant “yao tao yao mei” (means got head and got tail, feeling complete). So don’t worry, Picha Heroes — we’ll ensure all our duck dishes will be served as a WHOLE this CNY!

Dalia’s Roasted Duck. Photo credit: Thevi’s Kitchen

#5 Must Bless Others!

(adding this to the list because I ran out of CNY traditions & it’s not good to end with the number four ha ha ha)

But CNY is really the time to bless others! As you receive blessings from the elderly, why not channel these blessings back to the community in need?

You can do so by ordering a Chinese New Year Meal from us! This year, we are serving you our signature Yee Sang plate plus two auspicious Chinese New Year Sets. Why not choose to rebuild and impact lives when you order from Picha for one of your many reunion meals that are going to happen anyway? 🙂


Though this is not exactly a CNY tradition; but you can be the change & start making this a tradition from this year onwards!

Here you go, ready to make that perfect Chinese New Year meal for your family and friends, remember to invite us ok? We are your friends too!