Most Americans consider the new year to start on January 1. But for many Asians and Asian-Americans, that’s not the case. Lunar New Year, commonly referred to as Chinese New Year in the U.S., begins on January 22 this year (which is the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac, BTW). Also called Spring Festival in most of mainland China, Lunar New Year starts on the night of the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar, which is a bit shorter than the 365-day solar year. The 16-day festival season is celebrated with lots of Chinese New Year food that’s prepared, served and eaten in symbolic ways.
It all begins with the reunion dinner, which is basically a big family feast where everyone gathers to spend time together and share their wishes for health, happiness and prosperity in the year ahead. It’s arguably the most popular festivity, so much so that countless people travel across the country to be with their families and celebrate. In case you’re planning or attending a get-together, here are a few traditional Chinese dishes to enjoy at a Lunar New Year dinner.