Fish is considered a lucky symbol in Chinese culture. The Mandarin word for fish 鱼 (yu) shares a similar pronunciation as 余 which means surplus or abundance. Due to the homophony, the Chinese tend to equate fish with these auspicious traits.
Here are more interesting things about fish from a Chinese’s perspective.
A must-eat during Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year is the most important Chinese festival. As they look forward to a year of abundance, fish becomes an indispensable dish on the dinner table, especially during the reunion dinner.
In Singapore, one of the most popular fish during Lunar New Year is the white spotted rabbitfish (白肚鱼). This is their mating season hence they are filled with creamy roe, making them extra delicious.
Eat but don’t flip
While eating fish during Lunar New Year is a must, flipping the fish (after finishing one side) is a strict no-no.
It began with fishermen in the past, who considered flipping a fish as having the same connotation as a capsizing a boat. The tradition has been passed down to today, where flipping can mean an overturned vehicle.
Feng shui strategy
Apart from hobby and aesthetic purposes, many Chinese keep fish as part of their feng shui strategy. It is believed that having an aquarium at a calculated spot in the house or office is an effective way to enhance one’s wealth and career luck.
The Asian Arowana (Scleropages Formsus) or Dragon Fish tops the list of auspicious fishes to keep, and a favourite among Chinese businessmen. It is believed that if the Arowana is treated well, it will protect its owner against misfortunes and bring him wealth and prosperity.
年年有余 (Nian nian yo yu) is a common Lunar New Year greeting which means “wishing you great abundance”. While this is not directly related to fish, the Mandarin word for fish 鱼 (yu) sounds similar to 余 which means surplus or abundance.
From 21 Jan – 11 Feb 2016, S.E.A. Aquarium has lined up some festive fun for the whole family with its Gong Sea Fa Cai programme. Details here