Skip to main content

Here Are 4 Essential Elements of CNY, and Fortune Cookies Aren’t One of Them

Nope, fortune cookies aren't a Chinese thing.
Here Are 4 Essential Elements of CNY, and Fortune Cookies Aren’t One of Them

Chinese New Year is such a prosperous celebration. You'll probably see the color 'red' being associated with the festival.

But other than colors, the festival comes with many important elements that will make its celebrators feel more prosperous and in the mood!

It's time to check if these elements have made it onto your checklist!

1. Red hanging lanterns (灯笼 ).

?

IMAGE: Addie Davis/ Pexels.

Okay, to be fair, people don't really stick to just red anymore. But for context, red is a vibrant and festive color that represents wealth and prosperity.

Most Chinese lanterns are red, and lanterns of this color symbolize a prosperous business and a thriving life.

Nowadays, lanterns have designs and patterns that make them look more festive and meaningful to the buyers.

If you've heard of the legend of Nian the monster, you'd know that it used to terrorize the people. It was later discovered that the monster was terrified of the color red and loud noises.

That, folks, is why we have hanging red lanterns in front of houses. It is very much symbolic of how Chinese New Year was formed.

2. Spring couplets (春联).

IMAGE: John Lee/ Pexels.

This is the most beautiful and meaningful form of blessing that is handwritten in the most classic calligraphy form.

Couplets are Chinese calligraphy written on red paper with black ink and a brush. Each couplet conveys the writer’s wishes for the new year with a format and rhythm that is either identical or complementary but features the same number of words.

You can also understand it as a form of poetry but written as one-liners and in Mandarin.

The placement of Spring Festival couplets is believed to ward off evil spirits and attract good luck into the home. Spring couplets not only serve as decorative elements but also hold cultural and symbolic significance.

They add a festive atmosphere to homes and communities during the Chinese New Year celebrations, and the tradition is still widely practiced among Chinese communities around the world today.

However, in modern days, these couplets can be easily bought in stores and are mostly machine-printed. They are pretty, but a lot less meaningful in comparison to older times when the elders would write fresh new couplets on New Year's Eve.

3. Bamboo plant.

IMAGE: Ricebowl.

They call it 'Lucky Bamboo' for Chinese New Year.

The rigid and solid stalks symbolize growth and resilience. The evergreen nature of bamboo symbolizes tenacious life.

The toughness of bamboo is often used to symbolize the principle of being a man with strong spirit. You can bend them, but never break them.

The different number of stalks in the pot arrangement brings different meanings. Two stalks for love, three for happiness, six for wealth, and eight for bountiful prosperity.

A lucky bamboo brings good fortune and prosperity for at least a year. Since it is a water-based plant, it's quite easy to handle and care for.

4. Fruit basket arrangement.

IMAGE: BURO Malaysia.

When you visit a Chinese friend's house during Chinese New Year, you might have come across a fruit basket set up somewhere in their house.

It's not just any ordinary fruit basket, though. There are selected fruits that can be set up that have their own meaning to them.

The most classic fruit you'd see (and is technically the essence of Chinese New Year) is the mandarin orange. You'd know them as kumquats or tangerines as well.

Its round shape is an auspicious symbol of togetherness and harmony. Some Chinese people will buy a pot of kumquat tree and place it at home for good fortune.

Next up on the list is the pineapple. Pineapples stand for wealth and good luck. In the Hokkien dialect, the word “pineapple” is “ong lai” which translates to 'good fortune will come'.

Don't be surprised to see apples in the basket. It's definitely not a casual act of dumping fruits into the basket. There's a meaning behind the name.

In Chinese, “苹 (ping)” and “平” are homophones, and “平” means safe and peace. Chinese people believe that one can live a peaceful and harmonious life by eating apples. They also like to buy a box of apples as a Chinese New Year gift for their relatives and friends, for the best wishes of good luck and wealth for the next year.

We're also here to debunk fortune cookies as a part of Chinese New Year culture.

As a matter of fact, fortune cookies' origins are unclear. To one extent, Western countries associate fortune cookies with the Chinese. It somehow became a sensationalized 'tradition' in Chinese-owned shops and restaurants in different Chinatowns in Western countries.

We're not sure who started the 'fortune cookie' fiesta, but Asian countries don't have fortune cookies in their traditions.

IMAGE: Taste Made.

According to History TV, fortune cookies are more readily traceable to 19th-century Japan and 20th-century America. So, it's nowhere near Chinese.

As far back as the 1870s, some confectionary shops near Kyoto, Japan, carried a cracker with the same folded shape and a fortune tucked into the bend instead of its hollow inside. It’s called the “tsujiura senbei,” or “fortune cracker,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food.

So remember, don't go around asking the Chinese why they don't serve fortune cookies during Chinese New Year.

Hey there! Here's what others are currently reading:

Do You Know What Lunar New Year Means and Why It’s One of the Biggest Celebrations in Asia?

Feel the Lunar New Year Excitement in S’pore As You Ride Their CNY-Themed Public Transportation!

S’poreans Will Be Able To Travel Visa-Free to China Starting Feb 9, 2024, Just in Time for CNY!

Follow Mashable SEA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Cover image sourced from Alexander Grey/ Pexels and RDNE Stock project/ Pexels.

Recommended For You

Trending on Mashable

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news