Chinese New Year is a time when families and friends get together. Food plays a very important part in the celebrations.
At the New Year's Eve dinner, families often have eight or nine different dishes. This is because eight and nine are lucky numbers. The Chinese word for eight rhymes with the word for good fortune. The word for nine means long-lasting.
Many foods at the feast have a special reason for being included: dumplings, because they look like golden nuggets; a whole fish or chicken to represent togetherness and good fortune; long noodles, to bring long life; oranges, because they are perfectly round and are symbols of good luck. Also, the Chinese word for orange sounds a lot like the word for wealth. It is a New Year's tradition to take oranges when visiting people's homes.
Sticky rice cakes and sweets are also served. There is a legend about a Kitchen God who reports to the Jade Emperor in heaven on whether families have been good or bad during the year. According to legend, when families serve the Kitchen God foods that are sticky and sweet, his mouth gets stuck together and he can't report any bad things about the family to the Jade Emperor.