chinese food/round up/words

How to Celebrate the Year of the Dog: Traditions and What to Cook for Chinese New Year

Posted February 13, 2018 by Stephanie
chinese new year noodles | i am a food blog

Woah, it’s Chinese New Year already! This year, CNY lands on February 16th and it’ll be the Year of the Dog – one of the cutest years ever, in my humble opinion. Seems like this year there’s a huge abundance of interest in Chinese New Year that I haven’t really seen before. Mike and I just got back from a quick Las Vegas trip and we saw so many Chinese New Year slot machines. All the stores around town have Chinese New Year window displays and some local restaurants are doing Chinese themed menus to celebrate.

Speaking of Chinese themed menus, for me Chinese New Year is all about the food – and family and fun too, but first of all, food. Food definitely holds special importance in Chinese culture, with lots of foods representing certain things. Chinese peeps are kind of sort of superstitious in general and Chinese New Year is probably the most important holiday so there are several things that we do to try to maximize luckiness for the new year. Here are some tips and tricks for some extra luck in the Year of the Dog!

chinese steamed fish with pasta -

Cleaning House

A new year means a fresh and clean house. You’re supposed to clean (and I really mean clean) the whole house before CNY because you’re effectively cleaning away the old year. Sweeping, mopping, dusting and tiding means you’re getting rid of any baggage and things associated with the past year because you don’t want to bring them into the new year. Plus, you’re not supposed to clean at all during the first five days of new year, so you want your house to be spic and span.

XO Sauce Noodles Recipe -

Family Reunion Dinner

Family reunion dinner is the most important dinner of the year. It always happens on CNY eve and people travel from far and wide to go back to their parents’ house to celebrate. It’s always a big home cooked feast with lots of lucky dishes and everyone eats and chills. It’s extremely traditional and a must! Everyone stays up late to usher in the new year. But, in today’s day and age, lots of people go out for reunion dinner too, so do whatever feels best to you as long as it’s with family.

XO Sauce Noodles Recipe -

The Color Red

Red is a very lucky color in Chinese because of a very old tradition – the same tradition of why CNY is celebrated. The story goes: in ancient China, there was a beast called Nián Shòu, which literally translates to “year beast.” He would come around every Chinese New Year and devour livestock and people and basically wreck havoc. But then, it was discovered that the beast didn’t like the color red or loud noises. It worked so well that Nián Shòu never showed up again but people kept decorating with red things and setting off fireworks on Chinese New Year to make sure that he never came back.

If you want some extra luck, make sure you have a bit of red decorating your house or wear something red on CNY. Or, if you’re married you can give away lucky red envelopes. That used to be my second favorite part of Chinese New Year because the envelopes have lucky money in them! If you’re a kid, CNY is the bomb – so much fun.

Shopping/New Year’s Markets

New year, new you! Chinese peeps love shopping during Chinese New Year. New clothes symbolize a new beginning, so many people will go shopping before CNY to have a brand new outfit to wear on actual new year’s day. And if you have a Chinese mall in your area, they’ll be a New Year’s market where they sell flowers and other cute small things.

Finally, the Food

There are a bunch of symbolic foods to eat: dumplings, mandarins, spring rolls, fish, new years cake, and noodles are just a few. You should eat dumplings because dumplings kind of sort of look like gold ingots, so if you eat dumplings you’ll be rich. Also, defintely have a bunch of mandarins hanging out (for eating and displaying) because they represent gold. It means you’ll be rich! Deep fried spring rolls look like gold bars, so if you eat them, you’ll also be rich! There’s a theme here, I know.

spicy wonton and noodles recipe -

New year’s cakes (niangao, which are sticky rice cakes) are also eaten for prosperity because the words sound like “year high,” which means the coming year will go higher and higher. Fish is also a big thing because fish is “yu” which sounds like abundance, which essentially means, you’ll be rich! And of course, long noodles are eaten for long life :)

Here are some recipes that you can make if you’re feeling like you need some extra luck in the Year of the Dog.

spicy wonton and noodles recipe -

Spicy Wonton with Noodles

chinese steamed fish with pasta -

Green Onion, Ginger and Soy Chinese Steamed Fish with Noodles

Crispy Shrimp Potstickers

XO Sauce Noodles Recipe -

XO sauce and Chinese Sausage Fried noodles

black bean beef chow mein -

Black Bean Beef Chow Mein

Happy Year of the Dog friends! May it be prosperous and healthy!
ALL THE dumplings and noodles,
xoxo steph


  1. Very cool post! Thanks for the tips! Those fried noodles are literally calling my name xo

    1. Stephanie says:

      fried noodles forever, amiright?!

  2. Yukiko says:

    Happy Year of the Dog to you too! I love year of the Dog too, as it’s “my year” and dogs are so cute too (^^)

    1. Stephanie says:

      yay! happy year of the dog to you :)

  3. Jessie says:

    Great post, I love holiday traditions and so cool to learn about the traditions of CNY. And noodles fo life!! I was born on Year of the Dog, does it mean anything that this is Dog again? Will it be a lucky year for me? <3

    1. Stephanie says:

      every year can be a lucky year!! i think it’s supposed to be a good one for dogs this year :)

  4. Sophie says:

    I am seeing this post belatedly but I wanted to let you know I made your noodles with chinese sausage and xo sauce as an accompaniment to my Szechuan dry pot at our CNY celebration! They were a big hit and a perfect way to balance out spicy Szechuan peppercorns. Love your recipes and ideas!

    1. Stephanie says:

      thanks so much sophie! i’m so happy you liked the noodles :) happy cny!!

  5. Sam St. John says:

    Wow! Your pictures are impeccable. This whole blog follows a consistent, clean and crisp aesthetic. This post specifically makes my mouth water but also gets my wheels turning. I was not aware of these traditions prior to reading this article, but now I would love to partake in these! Thank you for the delicious and easy to follow recipes as well as opening my mind to other traditions.

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