Fish for New Year

Fish for New Year

Personal Background:

Roger is a sophomore at the University of Southern California studying Inernational Relations. He has grown up with mostly Taiwanese traditions. He is living in Los Angeles right now, but is originally from Huntington Beach, California. He lives with his mother, who was born in Taiwan. His mother and him speak Mandarin at home. As much as Roger loves living in California, he still follows certain traditions that make him closer to Taiwan.


Chinese New Year is a very important time of the year  no matter where someone is in the world. People who are not even asian seem to be getting into it. There are a lot of different traditions and festivals that go on with this changing of the year, but there was one in particular Roger explained that I had never heard of before. Apparently, everyone participating in Chinese New Year must eat fish during this time of year, but one must not finish the fish.

The reason for this has to do with the Chinese character for fish in Mandarin.  It is very similar to that of wealth. When they eat it, it is as if they are eating some of their wealth. But they need to make sure they do not finish the fish, because if they eat it all they are eating all of their wealth. They leave pieces in hope for wealth for next year.

Even though this is something everyone does, and it is something people do to celebrate together, Roger does not believe it it actually gives wealth. He has been doing this for as long as he can remember, but he does not think of it as a tradition he is able to do with this family and friends during their celebrations.


This is a type of tradition that also brings in some folk beliefs as well. They ones who are eating the fish are hoping there is some form of magic from the fish, and they hope the power from it will rub off on them, giving them wealth. What makes it a tradition is the fact that it is an activity family and friends can do together. It links them to their past and to their ancestors who also did this same thing. The fact that is something that people need to do in order to get their wealth, makes it a tradition.

To me, this tradition is a way to bring family and friends together as they remember the past year and look forward to the new one. It is also a way to give people hope about their year. If someone has had a hard year, leaving the bits of fish may be exactly what they need in order to look forward to the next year. It is very similar in American new year. People want something to look forward to for the next year, so they kiss someone at midnight in hope of having love in the next year. Even though Chinese New Year and New Year in America are very different, there are some pieces that cross over between both cultures.