The Lucky Coin in New Year Dumplings


YZ was born in the family of a high ranking military official of the Republic of China. After the Communist Party defeated the Nationalist Party, her family did not flee to Taiwan. Instead, they settled in a village in the northeastern part of China and became farmers. During the Cultural Revolution, her father was executed, and her mother married another man, also a farmer. YZ grew up and had a family in the village, and spent a large amount of time in her life as a farmer, until her grandson was born. Her son had a job and created a family in the city, and when her grandson was born, she moved into the city to help take care fo the kid.

YZ couldn’t recall how exactly did she learn of this piece of folklore. She says many other people she know are doing similar things.

The informant shared this piece of folklore during a family dinner on Sunday.

The Main Piece:

In YZ’s family, they will put a “lucky coin” randomly in one of the dumplings they make on Chinese New Year. And whoever eats the dumpling with the coin in it is considered to going to be super lucky in the coming year.


The context here is Chinese New Year, and the whole family gathers together making dumplings. The performance is putting one coin in one of the dumplings, and whoever eats that dumpling is going to be super happy for that good luck. The context and performance together form a special New-Year spirit, meaning that this folklore only works on Chinese New Year. In any other occasion, if you find a coin in your dumpling, you feel like the cook was making a mistake, and your food gets polluted by something that shouldn’t be there. If there’s only the context but no performance, meaning we’re simply making dumplings for Chinese New Year without the lucky coin, it gets boring.