Traditional Chinese Festival Food

Chinese food is manifold and varies in taste. Traditional festival food in particular is not only delicious, but also has very good meanings of blessing. For example, people admire the full moon and enjoy mooncakes with their families on Mid-Autumn Festival for the meaning of reunion.

Jiao Zi (Dumpling)

New Year's Eve falls on the 30th day of the last lunar month in Chinese calendar and it is the last day of an old year. When night falls and the evening lights are lit, the family members sit round the kitchen table to eat dumplings and share the joy of this year in a happy and warm atmosphere. Dumplings, or Jiaozi, are a kind of filling food with flour wrapper which is deeply loved by the Chinese people. It is a must for the Spring Festival in most parts of Northern China. There are many legends about the name of dumplings and the most popular one is that, the new year and the old year "meet at Zi period" (from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.), thus the name of Jiaozi which looks like the ingot. Traditionally, Chinese people would eat dumplings at midnight when the bell of New Year rings, so as to welcome the arrival of the New Year.

Nian gao (Chinese New Year's Cake)

Chinese New Year is the most solemn and lively traditional festival for Chinese people. The Spring Festival food includes New Year's cake, dumplings, fish, meat and vegetables. On New Year's Eve, Chinese people often eat New Year's cake and sweet dumplings for the meaning of "family reunion". New Year's cake is generally made of glutinous rice for the meaning of "better and better" in production and life.

Yuan Xiao

Lantern Festival is the first important festival after the Chinese New Year and it falls on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month when the moon is full. Sweet dumplings are the major food for Lantern Festival and businessmen call it "Yuanbao" (ingot). Sweet dumplings take sugar, rose, sesame, bean paste, cinnamon, walnut kernel, nut and jujube paste as filling and are wrapped into round balls with glutinous rice flour; the fillings can be meat or vegetarian and the taste varies. Sweet dumplings can be boiled, fried and steamed and have the meaning of happy reunion. The most distinctive sweet dumplings are those in Shaanxi, which are not wrapped but rolled in glutinous rice flour, and cooked by boiling or frying for the meaning of reunion and prosperity.

Zongzi (Chinese Sticky Rice Dumpling)

Every year at the beginning of the fifth lunar month, Chinese people would soak glutinous rice and wash bamboo leaves to make Zongzi in a variety of forms as a way to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival. In terms of fillings, people in North China often make Zongzi with jujube while in the South, mung beans, pork, bean paste, eight treasures, ham, mushroom, yolk and other ingredients are used. Guangdong Salted Meat Zongzi and Jiaxing Zongzi are the representative ones. The custom of eating Zongzi has been prevalent in China for thousands of years, and has spread to North Korea, Japan and other countries in Southeast Asia.


Mooncakes on the Mid-Autumn Festival are widely popular. Every year on the Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese people would reunite with their families to enjoy mooncakes which symbolize the happy reunion. Even if some people cannot go home, they would eat mooncakes, admire the full moon and think of the good time at home to relieve homesickness. There are many flavors of mooncakes, among which Five Nuts Mooncake is the most classic. Besides, sweet bean paste mooncake, lotus seed paste mooncake and ham mooncake are also popular.

Laba Porriage

Laba Porridge (or Laba congee) is a kind of porridge made with various ingredients on Laba Festival. The custom of eating Laba Porridge to celebrate the harvest has come down the ages. Although the materials used to make Laba porridge are different in different areas of China, they basically include cereals such as rice, millet, glutinous rice, purple rice and glutinous rice; beans such as soybeans, red beans, mung beans, and cowpeas; dried fruits such as red dates, peanuts, lotus seeds, hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts, almonds, longan, raisins, and ginkgo. Laba Porridge is not only a seasonal delicacy, but also a good health product especially suitable for nourishing the spleen and stomach in cold weather.