As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

Dose #39 – New Year Grocery

Today, learn what Chinese people are buying for CNY and why.

We continue with “All I Need To Know About CNY 
I Learned from a Transit Ad”
4 of  8

Dose #39: New Year Grocery

Spotted at: YEO’s Transit Ads, MRT stations across Singapore

What I Learned About CNY: “Before the spring festival, people stock up necessities to prepare for the New Year.  It is customary to buy food and drinks that have words or phrases (printed on their packaging)  that signify good blessings -for example – close family ties and  family unity. -YEO’s  poster
Note: The 15-day Chinese New Year celebrations is a.k.a. “Spring Festival”

New Year Grocery


I thought I’d take you shopping in Singapore so we can see the CNY essential groceries.  But before we head out, I invite you to read this article on the symbolisms of CNY foods.


lucky welcome

This is the store’s greeter holding a Yuanbao (ingot)
“A yuanbao is a small metal ingot that was used in ancient China as money. Being made out of silver or gold, the value was determined by weight in taels, which is a weight measurement, part of the Chinese system of weights and currency.” -Info from nations online
The term has survived in modern China as their currency is called ‘yuan’


traditional CNY cakes

Nian Gao – Traditional CNY cakes- in lucky shapes:
1) Round CNY cake – symbolizes prosperity, completeness, perfection, family unity and continuity; 2)Fish CNY cake – symbolizes: long life, good fortune; 3) Yuanbao/Ingot CNY cake- symbolizes: wealth, good fortune
Check out Nian Gao symbolism and recipe on chow.com


bounty of the sea

Item: FiSH    Symbolism: long life and good fortune
Item: abalone together with Abalone, bird’s nest, crab roe, shrimp roe, sea cucumber, and shark’s fin
Why the Chinese buy these: luxury CNY ingredients


goodies to share

Item: Prosperity Goodies to share with family and friends during the 15 day CNY celebrations
Symbolism: Eating sweets = sweet year (good luck, good fortune).
Pineapple tarts are the most popular. Another favourite treat to share in Singapore is the love letter pastry which according to the sales personnel at the grocery symbolises the love of family and friendship.

I did not really understand why there is such a variety of sweet goodies in jars/buckets around this time of year at the grocery, here’s what I learned from a CNY article: During Chinese New Year—  “Sweets and fruits are served on a round tray, the form resembling togetherness, hence the tray is called the ‘Tray of Togetherness’. Sweets offered on the tray add up to the number 8, because eight is a lucky number and symbolizes fortune.” – Info from cultural china
* About the “Tray of Togetherness” an article in Flavour and Fortune  says — some Chinese families use octagonal trays because it has 8 sides.. the number eight is a symbol of prosperity.


ready to eat yusheng

Item: Yu Sheng     Symbolism: Prosperity, abundance
I imagine in the past the Yu Sheng was something the family prepared together as a sort of bonding activity.  These days, people just buy ready-to- toss-&-eat Yu Sheng kits, then all they need to prepare is company and good cheer!


mandarins galore

Item: oranges and tangerines    Symbolism: wealth, good fortune, abundant happiness

Read more about the CNY symbolism of oranges and tangerines on hubpages


CNY drinks

Tiger beer and gold coffee..i can already see these are top sellers this season.
“In China, the tiger is considered the king of all beasts (not the lion) and represents powerful energy. Furthermore, the tiger is associated with Tsai Shen Yeh, the Chinese God of Wealth, and this god is usually seen sitting on a tiger in Asian art.”  Info from culturalchina


Here’s a Yeo’s  promotional video.  As I said,  it was their ads that inspired me to write this special CNY series. They are aggressively promoting their products as an essential part of the CNY celebrations.

Read more Chinese New Year food symbolisms here


bamboo plant

(L-R) The bamboo wishing well with gold ingot as bucket; curly bamboo
and 3 tier bamboo (triple happiness and prosperity)
Item: bamboo plants     Symbolism: longevity and strength
“Cantonese word for bamboo shoots phonetically sounds like wishing that everything will be well.”
Info from flavorandfortune


essential decorations kit

Home Decorations with Good Wishes for the New Year
Velvet firecrackers, wall couplets, auspicious FU, lucky ornaments


western brands with CNY packaging

I just wanted to show how very western items are dressed for the season. Tom & Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Tweetie, Kleenex and Kitkat….

Read more on CNY/Spring Festival goods on cultural-china


what to purchase for CNY

“What do you plan to purchase for CNY?”
Here are the results of the Singapore survey by tnscny
Image from tnscny



So do…ponder on the essence of celebrating CNY – to spend time with those we love, reflect on and be grateful for the blessings of the past year and be happy, grateful and hopeful for the blessing of another year.

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This entry was posted on February 8, 2015 by in Bond, Teach and tagged , .
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