Dumplings are a famous traditional northern Chinese food consisting of a semi-circular or half-moon pasta shape with different fillings inside. Dumplings are given different names because of their various fillings. There are different ways to cook dumplings, such as fried dumplings or steamed dumplings.
Dumplings are also a special food in the Spring Festival in northern China, where people have the habit of eating dumplings in winter. On the eve of the Spring Festival, dumplings take an irreplaceable place in any big banquet. The New Year’s tradition of eating dumplings is the same all around the country, but the custom of eating dumplings changes in different places.
Eating dumplings during New Year’s Eve is the traditional habit for most Chinese, but some areas choose to eat dumplings after New Year’s Eve. Eating dumplings on the occasion of New Year’s represents making wishes and the expression of praying for good luck in a unique way. Eating dumplings in the Spring Festival brings good luck. In addition, the dumplings’ shape looks like an ingot (元宝), which was the currency used in old times, meaning ‘luck and fortune‘.
Symbolic Representation of Dumplings
Dumplings are not only just a food, but also a representation of Chinese cuisine. Every part of the dumpling demonstrates a part of the Chinese culture, which is essential during every Spring Festival dinner, expressing the people’s aspirations for a better life.
Celery stuffing represents the meaning of wealth and industry for the production of materials.
It is the steady wealth and also hard-working, pragmatic blessing.
Leek stuffing represents the meaning of long term wealth.
It is the long term material wealth blessing and the wish for the family to be in good health, harmony, joy and happiness.
Cabbage stuffing represents the well-off life.
It is the blessing for a well-off life for a hundred years and the enduring love between new couples.
Chinese dumplings (饺子jiǎozi /jyaoww-dzrr/) are a favorite with Westerners and some restaurants specialize in just dumplings. About 20 or 30 is usually enough for a meal, 40 if you’re really hungry. Dumplings are ordered in (traditionally bamboo) trays called long of 10 or 20 dumplings. So you can say yī lóng (一笼 /ee-long/ “one tray”) followed by your choice of filling to order.
Popular fillings include the standard minced pork (猪肉zhūròu /joo-roh/), as well as beef (牛肉niúròu /nyoh-roh/), cabbage (白菜báicài /beye-tseye/), and garlic and chives (韭菜jiǔcài /jyoh-tseye/). See below for a sample dumping menu, with pronunciation and characters to recognize and point to.