Why we eat pineapple tarts during Lunar New Year and the meanings behind other goodies

Jan 19, 2017

The Lunar New Year is a time to indulge, especially in treats that symbolise all things abundant and prosperous. Forget about that waistline and dig in!

Sweet and savoury snacks

Bak kwa (barbecued sweet meat)

Originating from Fujian province in the days when meat was scarce, these slices of preserved pork (above) were a luxury treat reserved for guests and special occasions. Marinated with sugar and spices before being grilled, it is also called long yoke in Cantonese, which means to have robust fortune.

Love letters

Actually crispy egg rolls, they are said to be formerly used to convey secret notes between lovers. The recipient would eat the egg roll to show the words had been taken to heart. Its shape and colour also resemble gold bars, while the inclusion of eggs represents fertility.

Mandarin oranges


Their appearance says it all – round in shape and orange in colour, they look like gold ingots. Even better, its Mandarin name ju sounds like ji (luck in Chinese). Thus, Mandarin oranges (above) not only bring Vitamin C to the table, but also symbolise prosperity.

Roasted peanuts


Often offered to guests still in the husk, they are commonly called hua sheng (flowering of life in Mandarin), offering good wishes for health and growth. They are sometimes known as chang sheng gua (nuts of longevity; above), as their shape promises a long, healthy life.

Longan and red date tea

The Mandarin name for red dates is hong zao, which means prosperity comes early; while longans, a homophone for dragon’s eye, represent the legendary creature’s vigour. The ingredients are cooked in a sugared broth with wishes for a sweet life. Ginkgo nuts are often added as their shape represents silver ingots.

SEE ALSO: A guide on where to eat and what to do during Lunar New Year 2017 in Singapore