On Chinese New Year’s Eve, the informant’s family would start to make dumplings in the evening so they could eat the dumping at midnight. It is important to make sure that the dumplings are securely sealed so they won’t break down when boiling the pot. When the dumplings are cooked, the informant’s family will gather and eat the dumplings.
The informant’s family makes eats dumplings every Chinese New Year’s Eve. The informant believes it is an important part of the New Year festival for her family. One important thing that she noted about the dumplings is that they must be made very carefully so the dumplings don’t fall apart in the boiling pot. She laughed at herself a bit and explained that it’s the reason why she doesn’t participate in the dumpling-making, as she sometimes makes dumplings that fall apart. Usually, the family members that are skilled at dumpling making are responsible for folding the dumplings. Also, although dumplings taste better with more fillings, the new year version has fewer fillings to ensure they don’t leak outside when being cooked.
Many Chinese families have the tradition of eating dumplings (Jiaozi) in the new year, but the tradition slightly varies among each family. Some people eat dumplings for New Year’s Eve dinner; some eat them for New Year’s Day breakfast. The informant’s family chooses to eat dumplings at midnight, during the liminal time between the old and the new year. There is because midnight (11 pm to 1 am) is called the time of Zi in ancient China, and the character Jiao means intersecting and meeting. Thus, Jiao plus Zi became Jiaozi, meaning at time Zi the old and the new year intersects. It is also the synonym of Jiaozi or dumpling. Eating dumplings at midnight thus became a tradition. Dumpling means a lot to the Chinese. It is the shape of the Yuanbao, an ancient form of Chinese currency usually made of gold or silver. When making the dumplings, the extended meaning becomes creating wealth and luck. Thus, it is important that the dumplings don’t break, as they contain people’s wishes for the new year.