It is the tradition in many Chinese families to give each other gifts during the Chinese New Year season. In recent times, to make things easier, many visit shopping centres and pick up pre-packed hampers for their loved ones. However, if you want to customize your Chinese New Year hampers to make it more personal, here are some traditional gifts and the meanings behind them:
Dried Sweet Meats (Bak Kua) – These sweet barbecued meats are a common snack during CNY, and are sometimes used in certain dishes or included in a sandwich. However, it’s usually eaten alone, and brings wishes of a sweet and prosperous year ahead.
Mandarin Oranges (Kam) – Mandarin oranges must always be gifted in certain numbers. The most auspicious numbers are 8 and 9, while the number 4 should be avoided. The bright orange colour of these oranges are said to resemble gold, and are therefore symbols of wealth.
Black Moss (Fatt Choy) – These hairy black vegetables come in dried forms, and are eaten especially by Cantonese peoples on the first day of CNY as its name sound like the words for ‘prosperity’.
Melons and Pomelos – You’ll often see Pomelos and melons being sold when CNY season approaches. This is because both these fruits represent the strengthening of family ties, due to the abundance of seeds in them.
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms – Packs of these dried mushrooms are often included in gift packs as they were considered luxury items in ancient China. Nowadays, they’re given as ingredients to be cooked for a CNY or reunion dinner meal as they represent longevity and the seizing of good opportunities. Sometimes, instead of dried mushrooms, canned or fresh mushrooms are given instead.
Sticky Rice Cakes (Nian Gao/ Nin Gou) – Sweet and sticky nian gao are cut up and eaten by itself or deep fried in batter as a snack for CNY. Sometimes called ‘kuih bakul’, these rice cakes are given to wish a sweet year ahead to loved ones and friends.
Shopping tip: Here are some great items you can include in your CNY gift hampers this year, with some modern versions of traditional products included.
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