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Why do we eat Dumplings for Chinese New Year?

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A lot has been written about traditional foods for Chinese New Year celebrations. The foods detailed in the plethora of online articles on the topic include the symbolic nature of these traditional foods. One of my favorite things to eat, at any time of the year, are dumplings. At Chinese New Year, dumplings symbolize money or wealth. So eating dumplings is supposed to bring you wealth in the coming year. Why? Because dumplings look like money…at least that’s what all of the web pages tell you. This isn’t an Internet myth, but when you look at most all of the web sites, there is a disconnect.

When I search for “Chinese New Year Dumplings meaning” I get lots of results. Here are the photos from all the pages on the first results page from my Google search:

These dumplings all look delicious, but none of them resemble any form of money that I know of. When you reference old or ancient Chinese money, most people probably think of round coins with square holes like these:

CC-BY-SA from

Chinese Silver Ingot

But, all of these dumplings are generally semi-circles. No square holes, no circles. It’s one of things that I always never really understood about the references, but I didn’t argue the point. Fortunately, one article that lacks a photo, ironically also makes a reference to ancient money, and specifically “ingots”. A quick Google image search for “Chinese Ingots” and I discovered something I had not seen before. It was one of those, “I-was-this-many-years-old-when-I-learned…” moments.

Chinese Silver Ingots

As soon as I saw these ingots, it all made sense (no not cents!)! None of the dumplings pictured on those other websites were folded to look like ingots, but I immediately recognized the shape as a common dumpling! Do you see it too? What I think of as a standard wonton dumpling shape looks just like an ingot!


So, for Chinese New Year this year, eat lots of dumplings, and may wealth find its way to you and your family!

If you are interested in learning to make dumplings for your Chinese New Year celebrations, please join me for my next Chinese dumplings class on January 29. Chinese New Year is February 1, so this is just in time!

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