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The Reunion Dinner - the important dinner before Chinese New Year

The Reunion Dinner is considered the most important family dinner of the year, alongside with winter solstice. This post selected some of the "must-have" food items for reunion dinner and their hidden meanings!

The Reunion Dinner is considered the most important family dinner of the year that happens before Chinese New Year arrives.

Traditionally it is on Chinese New Year's Eve, some families may celebrate even before it.

As we all know, luck, prosperity and auspiciousness are very important in Chinese culture, especially during this festive and significant time of the year.

Let's look at some of the "must-haves" and their hidden meanings!

1. Fat Choy (Hair Vegetables)

Fat Choy is used as a vegetable in Chinese cuisine.

The two syllables of its name sound the same as "getting rich" in both Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese.


Fat Choy (Hair Vegetables)

  • Cantonese: faat3 coi3

  • Mandarin: fà cài


Getting Rich

  • Cantonese: faat3 coi4

  • Mandarin: fā cái

2. Fish

Fish is almost an indispensable dish in just any Chinese meals.

It symbolises abundance and an increase in prosperity.


  • Cantonese: jyu4 / yu2

  • Mandarin: yú

Extra / Surplus / Remaining

  • Cantonese: jyu4

  • Mandarin: yú

3. Chicken

Another go-to dish that never goes wrong must be chicken - be it steamed or roasted.

It bears the meaning of luck and togetherness as a family

The word for Chicken in Mandarin Chinese (雞 jī) sounds similar to that of luck (吉 jí); while serving a whole chicken symbolises family unity.

4. Prawns

Prawns are also a huge staple in Chinese New Year meals because its Cantonese pronunciation (haa1)

echoes the sound of laughter!

Tradition says, when you eat it, you will be filled with happiness and laugh 'ha ha'. The more you eat, the happier your family will be in the new year!

5. Dumplings

Families from northern parts of China are likely to serve dumplings during Chinese New Year meals.

Dumplings represent "wealth" because of their traditional gold/silver ingot shape!

What do you think?

6. Tangyuan (Glutinous Rice Balls)

and of course, we cannot end the Reunion Dinner without these goodies!

After the grand reunion dinner, we prepare "Tangyuan", which are glutinous rice balls cooked in sweet soup

that symbolizes family unity. They are served as desserts after dinner; usually filled with red bean / black sesame / peanut -flavoured paste.

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