6 things you shouldn’t eat during the Chinese New Year and why!

Certain dishes and vegetables are considered bad luck to eat during Chinese new year time. The symbolism is very important in this way of thinking!

For example, bitter gourd and Chinese sauerkraut, are considered not lucky for their name and meanings, bitterness and sourness in life respectively. Some are because of their shape is not looking fortunate, such as lotus roots – holes everywhere – symbolising leakage – draining.

Things you UNLUCKY to eat during chinese new year

Here is a list of “bad luck food” you might consider avoid eating during the Chinese new year and protect your good luck!


1. Bitter melon: symbolizing bitterness

Bitter melon or bitter gourd (Chinese: 苦瓜, pinyin: ku (3rd tone) gua (1st tone) as says in its name, bad omen predicting bitterness all the year-round!

( The 4 tones in Chinese are 1. ma – — A flat tone. 2. ma – / An upward tone. 3. ma – v Up and down tone! 4. ma – \ a downward sharp tone )

— Barrie wrote this bit ! ;>

2. Chinese sauerkraut: sour and unpleasant

Chinese sauerkraut or suan cai (Chinese: 酸菜,pinyin: suan T1 cai T4) same as bitter gourd, sour, and unpleasant all the year-round!

2 ordering tips if you are eating out for Chinese new year feast

  1. Never order Chinese sauerkraut and stuffed dumplings during Chinese new year time.
  2. If you want to have fish for the Chinese new year feast, try to avoid ordering a sauerkrant flavored fish as shows in the pic below.
  3. So basically nothing sour!

3. Pickles: “poor peoples’ dish”

Pickles (Chinese: 咸菜,pinyin: xian T2 cai T4). Chinese have a complex feeling about pickles, pickles are nice appetizers in everyday life, but during the new year celebration, pickles are seen as too average and are not ‘connected’ with good luck and good fortune.

It is seen as “poor people food”, I guess the logic behind this could be “if you can’t prepare any decent meal and just use smashed up pickles to celebrate the new year, chances are you might not doing very well and according to Chinese Feng Shui philosophy, good energy goes around and so does bad luck and misfortune “. Again – it’s the symbolism that is important!

4. Lotus roots: loopholes and leaking situation

Lotus root (Chinese: 莲藕,pinyin: lian2 ou3), is a controversial example. While some people regard lotus root as not lucky food for the Chinese new year as the shape with holes symbolizing money leaking situation, Cantonese consider lotus root a lucky dish symbolizing resourceful and many ways to success, because lotus root has many channels within and well connecting! So, that’s a question of culture and personal choice!

5. Porridge: “poor people food”

Porridge (Chinese: 粥, pinyin: zhou1), similar explanation to pickles, – ‘poor people food’ – meaning less wealth and poverty.

6. Medicine: illness

Eating medicine during the Chinese new year period is not lucky. Bad omen for symbolising illness or poor health condition in the coming year. And so it would be with any medical supplies or equipment, medicines, bandages etc, keep them tucked away in a drawer!

Learn more about things you can and can’t do to bring good luck during Chinese New Year, and the 12 most lucky food to eat during the Chinese new year!


Please bear in mind that all the food mentioned above lucky or not, are interpreted according to Chinese tradition and with the notion of bringing good luck for the new year. In fact, in China, between the north to south, Han people and minority groups, have diverse traditions and concepts about good luck.

The main thing to remember is that good symbols bring good luck!

Traditions are not necessarily facts, the younger generation in China nowadays very much like to eat and order anything to suit their appetite and taste, after all, the top priority of celebrating a new year is to be happy and treat yourself!

See also our pages on Feng Shui!

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2 thoughts on “6 things you shouldn’t eat during the Chinese New Year and why!

    1. Sorry, the things mentioned in this article is pretty much covered all the “unlucky” food subject, but thanks for reading, we will keep doing other Chinese food-related content in the future.

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