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10 Chinese New Year Food Superstitions

10

Oranges and Tangerines

Two of the most common food symbols of the Chinese New Year are tangerines and oranges. Whereas tangerines represent wealth, oranges are a popular symbol of good luck. The associations come from a similarity between the Chinese words for tangerine and gold, as well as a resemblance between the words orange and good luck. It isn't uncommon in Chinese culture for similar sounding or spelled words with very different meanings (homonyms) to become suggestive of one another over time. Oranges and tangerines are also a bright, vibrant orange, a happy color that's associated with good fortune.

During Chinese New Year, tangerines and oranges are displayed as decorations and are also exchanged among friends and acquaintances. Sometimes, small trees are kept for this purpose. When giving these fruits as gifts, offer them with both hands. It's polite for the recipient to refuse at first, so keep trying.

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Fruit is almost always a good Chinese New Year's gift. Oranges and tangerines are a traditional favorite, though, and can also represent happiness and abundance, as in an abundant harvest. If there are still leaves and a stem attached to the fruit, it also means fertility.

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