Chinese New Year is a fun and meaningful time filled with family, feasting and important traditions with deep, ancient roots. In the past we’ve brought you recipes for pork dumplings, Nian Gao (sticky cake), egg custard tarts and sweet cream cheese fried wontons. This year we’re featuring another essential part of Chinese New Year, the Tray of Togetherness or Chuen Hop. In fact, this piece of the celebration is so important that it is featured on the 2015 U.S. Postal Service Year of the Ram stamp.
Chuen Hop is an octagonal or round, often wooden, lacquered tray with eight compartments that is placed in a home during the two-week New Year celebration. It is filled with specific snacks for visitors, family and friends to eat. Each snack has a meaning as does the number eight, which is a lucky number conveying prosperity in the Chinese culture. The tray contains the following:
- Candied melon- growth and good health
- Fresh or dried coconut- friendship and unity
- Kumquat: gold and prosperity
- Longan fruit: many sons
- Lotus seeds: fertility
- Lychee nuts: strong family ties
- Peanuts: longevity
- Red watermelon seeds: joy, happiness and truth
Assembling your tray is a great family activity. As you collect the elements of the tray and place them in the different compartments, talk about what each food symbolizes and what you’re looking forward to in the upcoming year.
Happy Year of the Ram!
 Mack, L. (n.d.). Chinese New Year: How to Make a Chinese New Year Tray of Togetherness. Retrieved February 5, 2015.