Celebrating Chinese new year is plenty of fun for many different reasons (and you can and should join in even you aren't Chinese). For instance, all the pageantry, fireworks, and parades are pretty fantastic if you live somewhere that does it big for the lunar year; but even if your locale doesn't have big events, adorning your home with the traditional colorful decorations can be plenty festive on it's own.
Of course, gifts are always fun, so giving and receiving red envelopes can be a fantastic part of the day. But we're really here for the food - and not only is traditional Chinese New Year food pretty delicious, it's also auspicious (sorry, we couldn't resist the opportunities to rhyme).
A fish served whole are perhaps the most popular main dishes; not only does this represent unity, it makes a great centerpiece for a lunar new year table. You really can prepare it any way you and your guests prefer, but steamed with soy sauce and ginger is a common choice.
How you eat the fish also matters. The head of the fish should point towards the most distinguished and elderly members of your group, and they should start eating first. Finally, make sure you keep some leftovers, because having extra fish means abundance and overflowing wealth in the upcoming year.
Dumplings And Spring Rolls = Prosperity
Chinese dumplings are also a favorite, especially ones filled with cabbage and radish - which implies that you'll have a tranquil new year. And feel free to have a cheat day, because supposedly the more dumplings you eat, the wealthier you'll be in the New Year! Prefer something a little lighter? Spring rolls and rice cakes (nian gao) also symbolize prosperity.
Long Noodles Symbolize Longevity
The visual connection here is pretty obvious - long needles mean a long and happy life, so uncut, extra-long noodles are typically served fried or boiled with broth during lunar new year celebrations.
Fruit For Fortune & Wealth
Tangerines, oranges, and pomelos are eaten and displayed during the new year celebrations; not only are these citrus fruits at their peak during the winter months, but like dumplings, the more you eat, the more wealth you will potentially accumulate during the new year.
Enjoy your lunar new year celebrations and treats - and may you have a wonderful, happy, and prosperous year of the Rooster!