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28 Essential Chinese New Year Snacks

As the most important Chinese festival, Chinese New Year is always festive and ceremonious. Chinese people always prepare all sorts of goods, among which snacks are absolutely necessary. These snacks are picked not only for their delicious tastes, but for the auspicious meanings they represent. Let’s learn 28 essential Chinese New Year Snacks and the good wishes they bear.

Type 1: Nuts

1.Sunflower Seed - Having More Sons and Grandsons

A sunflower usually has numerous seeds, which bears people’s wish of having more sons and grandsons for their family. In some areas, sunflower seeds are scattered on the bed of newly-weds on the wedding night, in hope of newly-weds having more children. During the spring festival, people are free from work and relaxed. They often have sunflowers seeds while chatting with others and watching television to kill time. Besides the sunflowers seeds, watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds and gourd seeds are also great snack choices.

2.Peanut (Hua Sheng) - Endless Circle of Life

Peanuts are available every season. People eat them for its auspicious meaning of endless circle of life, rich nutrition and yummy taste. There are several flavored peanuts like boiled salty peanuts, crispy peanuts, fried peanuts, peanuts seeds, and more.

3.Chinese Date - Get Rich and Wealthy Early

Chinese date (枣) in Chinese is pronounced Zao, which is the same sound of 早 (early). Chinese people eat Chinese date in hope of getting rich and wealthy early. Besides, Chinese date is good for health, especially for women. The Xinjiang Chinese date is the best.

4.Walnut - Happy Family

Walnuts are not only nutritious, but imply a happy family. During Chinese Lunar New Year, walnuts are indispensable. Some people even send walnut as gift. The best walnuts in China are produced in Xinjiang.

5.Cashew Nut - Rolling in Wealth

The Cashew nuts in Chinese are called 腰果, which has the same first character in 腰包 (pocket). Having them bears people’s wish of getting rich and roll in wealth. Besides, cashew nuts are crispy and tasty.

6.Chinese Chestnut - Have A Son Soon

In ancient times, people often scatter Chinese dates and chestnuts in the chamber of newly-weds, wishing them have a son soon. In modern days, people love chestnuts for their rich nutrition and delicate taste. One can eat raw chestnuts directly, or boil, fry them, or add them into dishes.

7.Pistachio Nut - Happiness

Pistachio nuts are a popular snack in China, they are crispy and fragrant. As the Chinese name for them are Kai Xin Guo, meaning happy nuts, Chinese people buy them also for the good meaning of happiness. However, most pistachio nuts are produced overseas. Thus, they are quite expensive, about 100 RMB/kilo.

Type 2: Fruits

8.Grapefruit - Blessing Children

The name of grapefruits in Chinese is You Zi (柚子), which has the same sound of 佑子 (bless children). Many elders like to buy them for spring festival in hope of their children being blessed. Besides, grapefruits are good for clearing heat and cleansing the palate.

9.Orange - Auspiciousness

The pronunciation (Ju) of orange in Chinese is homophonic to Ji (吉), which means auspiciousness. Besides, oranges are winter fruit, they are sour-sweet, juicy and relatively cheap. However, be careful not to have too many of them, otherwise, you may get inflamed.

10.Longan - Reunion

Longans are an auspicious fruit representing reunion. Children love them, but they can't have too much. It's suggested women eat longans more for invigorating blood.

11.Pitayas - Prosperity and Boom

Pitayas only become popular in recent years, especially the red pitayas, symbolizing a prosperous life. Besides, pitayas are juicy and tasty.

12.Apple - Safe and Sound

Apples are very common in China. They are sweet, juicy and crispy, and have an auspicious meaning of safe and sound. They are very common in the fruit platters during Chinese spring festival.

13.Pomegranate - Having More Sons and Grandsons

The pomegranate trees bloom in summer and bear fruit in Autumn and Winter. Pomegranates have numerous seeds like the sunflowers, also symbolizing having more children and grandchildren. Therefore, people who want sons often prepare pomegranates in home.

14.Persimmon - Everything Goes Well

The Chinese pronunciation (Shi) of persimmon is the same as that of 事 (things). It bears the good wish of everything going well. Besides, persimmon fruits are born in late Autumn when other trees are withered. People take it as an auspicious sign of everything will finally pay off if they hold on to the last.

Type 3: Sweets

Chinese people have sweets during the Chinese New Year because they want to have a sweet and happy life in the new year.

Traditional Chinese Sweets

15.Candied Haws (糖葫芦)

Although candied haws are not technically sweets, they do taste sour-sweet and very delicious. The hawthorn ball kebabs are drizzled and coated with malt syrup. The sweetness of the malt syrup and sourness of hawthorn make a great combination. The hawthorn halls can also be replaced by orange pieces, walnuts, or grapes. It's still popular among children and young people.

16.Malt Candy (麦芽糖)

Though not common nowadays, it's a traditional sugar. Before the Chinese new year eve comes, there is a "little year" (小年) on lunar Dec.23 (Xiao Nian date in north China) or Dec.24 (Xiao Nian date in south China) that shows the official beginning of the Chinese spring festival. It's said that the Kitchen God reports the earthly events of the whole year to the Jade Emperor on that day. To make sure the Kitchen God say something sweet, people used to offer malt candy to the Kitchen God. In modern times, this tradition gradually disappeared, along with which disappears the malt candy.

17.Candied Figure (糖人)

It was a winter treat in old times. Some old artists often sit behind a table and make all kinds of figures or shapes out of fluid malt syrups. Rather than the candied figure itself, people more liked to enjoy the process of artists making them. Through blowing, squeezing, stretching and using chopsticks or tooth-sticks, the malt syrups are made into various shapes. During Chinese new year, most of them are in auspicious zodiac shapes.

18.Peanut Candy

Peanut candy is an ancient candy in China. It is made from peeled peanut and saccharose and tastes crunchy, sweet and with the fragrance of peanut. It's most cut into rectangular pieces, having it is like having a piece of cookie.

Modern Candies

19.White Rabbit Milk Candy

White Rabbit Milk Candy is a milk candy brand in China that prevailed for decades and became a classic and popular among all ages. It is chewy and strongly milk- flavored.

20.Chocolate Coin

Chocolate coins are chocolate that made into coin shape and wrapped with gold foils. People have them in hops of having more wealth. It's delicious, but with high calories, be careful not to eat too much.


They were very common in the 1920s, but it becomes expensive now, especially the handmade nougats.

22.Fruit Jelly

Unlike any other candies, fruit jelly is soft and fruit-flavored, very suitable for elders. There are many flavors like apple-flavored, orange-flavored, grape-flavored and hawthorn flavored. If you buy such candy, be careful not to choose ones covered with white sugars.

23.Hard Candy

Hard candy is one of the oldest and popular candies in China. There are many kinds of hard candies, but the most famous one must be the Alpine hard candy. It is sweet and slight-flavored. Even people who don't like sweets can have one or two Alpine candies.

Type 4: Cakes and Pastries

24.Dumpling - Amassing Fortunes

There was an old saying that “no food is better than dumplings”. In north China, dumpling is a very important food during festivals. It also has many auspicious meanings like reunion, happiness, and discarding the old and bringing the new. Besides, dumpling has a shape similar to that of ancient shoe-shaped gold and silver ingot. Having dumplings bears people’s wish of amassing fortunes. During the Chinese New Year eve, families members often sit together and make dumplings while chatting or watching television. What a sweet and warm atmosphere.

25.Glutinous Rice Cake - Reunion

Glutinous rice cake is made in shape of ball, symbolizing reunion. It’s prevalent in south China. Made from glutinous rice, sesame and white sugar, the glutinous rice cake tastes soft, waxy, and sweet.

26.New Year Cake - Getting Better Year by Year

New year cake is a traditional Chinese new year food in south China, especially in Guangdong. Even if they don’t actually eat the new year cake, southern Chinese still prepare it for its auspicious meaning of getting better year by year. It is made of glutinous rice and shaped into rectangular. Cantonese people like to slice it into pieces and fry, making it more fragrant, soft and sweet. Some people even made the fish-shaped new year cake, adding the other good wish of having enough to spend every year (年年有余).

27.Sweet Dumpling - Reunion

Having sweet dumplings during the spring festival shows people’s good wishes of happiness and reunion. Many southerners like to have sweet dumplings in the first day of lunar Chinese new year and on the date of Lantern Festival. While northerners only have them during the Chinese Lantern Festival.

28.Meatballs or Vege Balls - Reunion

Meatballs or Veges-balls also have favorable meaning of reunion. During the Chinese New Year, Chinese people always fry all kinds of meatballs and vege balls. Children love them.

There are other snacks for Chinese new year, this article just shared some most popular once. Should ou ever visit China during the lunar Chinese New Year, make sure you pay a visit to local family and taste their home-made snacks. You will be amazed!