In China on New Years, a person is meant to eat something sweet.
The informant, Dominique, reports that Chinese custom dictates that a person should begin the New Year by eating something sweet. Dominique says she learned this from her parents while living in Singapore. The custom is based on the belief that if a person eats something sweet to start the New Year, the rest of the year will be sweet as well. Dominique enjoys the practice and always follows it. She generally has a piece of hard candy as her sweet. She sees the practice as a way to greet the New Year and hope for the best in it. She says she will continue this practice with her own children one day.
Having a specific food to eat for a holiday is not uncommon. The sweet treat symbolizes good things to come in the year ahead. I think the practice is simply a way of welcoming the New Year. People in general seem to have a need to start fresh every so often and this practice is a manifestation of that need.