Chinese Food Northern Vs. Southern (II) —— Dumpling and Nian Gao
Dumpling and Niangao
As the most grand festival of the year, Chinese New Year pays more attention to diet. China has a vast territory. Due to geographical differences, the folkways of the south and the north are different, so that the food customs of the people in the south and the north during the Chinese New Year are also different.
In the north, there is the custom of "eating dumplings and celebrating the reunion", while in the south, there is the saying of "eating Nian Gao (New Year cakes) which implying auspiciousness". Dumplings are often made during Chinese New Year in northern China, which means the alternation of the old and the new. The shape of dumpling is similar to the ancient Yuanbao, so eating dumplings is a symbolic way of "recruiting wealth".
Chinese believe that eating dumplings may bring wealth and good luck. Sometimes, people will put a coin in dumpling, and whoever eats it will make a fortune in the New Year. Making dumplings on the Eve is also an indispensable etiquette for northern families.
On New Year's Eve, the whole family sat around making dumplings and chatting together, which meant a happy family reunion. So that making dumplings has also become a happy and enjoyable activity.
In contrast, the central and southern regions of China will eat Nian Gao （Chinese：年糕 nián gāo）during the Spring Festival. Niangao is the ancient Chinese food, literally, it is full of auspicious meaning. "Nian" has the same pronunciation with "年" or “黏”（Nián）, which can be understood as the meaning of New Year or reunion cohesion, while "Gao" has the same pronunciation with "高"（gāo）, represents the coming year will be better, and Nian Gao conveys people's expectations for the coming year.
Nian Gao not only represent people's expectations for the new year, but also have a unique taste. Made from southern rice, Nian Gao are sticky, chewy and have a wide variety. The style of Nian Gao is the square in yellow and white, which symbolizes gold and silver, which signifies a good fortune in the New Year.
About Chinese New Year eating customs, Northern and Southern have their own characteristics and styles. But both dumpling and Nian Gao are cultural heritage and carry people's good wishes for the coming year.