Is chicken lucky for new year?

Whether chicken is considered lucky during the new year is a tradition that varies across cultures. In some places, serving and eating chicken on New Year’s day is thought to bring prosperity and good fortune in the coming year. However, in other regions, chicken is avoided on New Year’s day due to symbolic meanings of the bird. Let’s take a deeper look at the origins, customs, and reasoning behind whether chicken is deemed lucky or unlucky for the new year around the world.

Why Do Some Cultures Consider Chicken Lucky for New Year’s?

There are a few key reasons why chicken is thought to be lucky for the new year in certain cultures:

  • Chickens scratch the ground backward, symbolizing moving into the new year without dwelling on the past.
  • Chickens are hardy birds that produce eggs frequently, representing fertility, abundance, and prosperity for the coming year.
  • The Chinese word for chicken sounds similar to the words for “fortunate” or “prosperous.”
  • Chicken meat and eggs are an affordable source of protein, allowing even less prosperous families to have access to this “lucky” food.
  • In some traditions, chicken feet resemble the shape of gold or silver ingots, signifying wealth.

For these reasons, preparing and consuming chicken on New Year’s day is thought to summon good luck, prosperity, and new beginnings in certain cultures, especially in China and within Chinese communities.

Cultures That Consider Chicken Lucky for New Year’s Day

Here are some of the key cultures and regions where eating chicken on New Year’s day is considered lucky and auspicious:


In China, chicken is one of the most significant traditional foods eaten on Chinese New Year. Serving an entire cooked chicken represents togetherness and family unity. Chicken dishes like chicken feet or roasted chicken are common New Year’s foods. The chicken’s head and neck may also be served, representing the image of a phoenix.

Chinese Communities Worldwide

Within Chinese diaspora communities all over the world, traditions of preparing chicken for Lunar New Year continue. Whole chicken is valued, but other chicken parts like wings, feet, and meat are also lucky. chef special chicken is quite popular in chinese restaurant.


In Vietnam, a whole boiled or roasted chicken is a standard dish on Tết or Lunar New Year. The chicken represents the coming together of family, and the layered feathers represent advancement and progress in the new year.


In Korea, chicken soup or broth is commonly consumed on Seollal or Lunar New Year. The chicken is believed to ward off bad luck and bring prosperity.


In the Philippines, chicken dishes are an important part of the New Year’s celebration. Stewed or roasted chicken represents prosperity.

Cultures That Avoid Chicken on New Year’s Day

On the other hand, some cultures deliberately avoid eating chicken on New Year’s day. Here’s an overview of places where chicken is considered unlucky or taboo for the holiday:


In Scotland, eating chicken on Hogmanay or New Year’s Eve was thought to bring bad luck. This may have originated from the idea that chickens scratch backwards, so eating one on New Year’s could cause your fortunes to go backwards in the coming year.


In Romania, chicken are considered a poor sign for New Year’s prosperity. One legend says that chickens represented Jewish people, while cattle represented Christians. Therefore, Romanians avoided chicken to honor Christianity.


In parts of the Netherlands, serving chicken on New Year’s day may be associated with poverty. Some avoid chicken so they don’t bring poverty upon themselves in the new year.

American South

In the American south, eating chicken on New Year’s day is sometimes considered unlucky. One folklore suggests that a chicken will scratch in reverse, causing your progress to go backwards in the new year if you eat one.

When Did Chicken Become Associated with New Year’s Luck?

The origins of eating chicken for good fortune on New Year’s day can be traced back many centuries:

  • As early as the Han Dynasty in China (206 BC–220 AD), chicken was established as a lucky New Year’s food.
  • The association connects to Chinese lore about the chicken as a sacred animal that wardsoff evil spirits and demons.
  • By the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD), Chinese physicians were recommending chicken as a healthy winter food, increasing its popularity.
  • The Chinese diaspora spread traditions of auspicious chicken dishes to Lunar New Year celebrations worldwide.

While chicken has long been tied to New Year’s in Chinese culture, some European traditions focused on avoiding chicken consumption to prevent bad luck as early as the Middle Ages.

Does Whole Chicken vs. Chicken Parts Make a Difference?

In Chinese tradition especially, serving a whole chicken represents family togetherness and harmony for the new year. But are chicken parts also acceptable or lucky?

  • Chicken wings or drumsticks are lucky in many regions, as they resemble the shape of ingots or nuggets. Wings also allow the chicken to “fly” into the new year.
  • Chicken feet are highly popular for the holiday, as they represent strong bases and stability looking ahead.
  • Whole chicken is still the most meaningful and luckiest dish, but parts can also convey good fortune.
  • Dishes like cashew chicken or chicken salad are unlikely to bring much luck due to lack of symbolism and wholeness of the chicken.

If you want to incorporate chicken into a New Year’s menu, serving it whole is best, but wings, feet, and other parts are also considered propitious in most traditions.

What Are Other Lucky New Year’s Food Traditions?

Beyond chicken, many cultures integrate special lucky foods into New Year’s celebrations:

  • Greens like cabbage, kale, collards represent money and prosperity.
  • Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils represent coins and financial gains.
  • Fruit symbolizes a sweet year ahead.
  • Rice and cakes made from rice flour signify abundance and fertility.
  • Long noodles represent long life and longevity.
  • Fish represents surplus and prosperity in some traditions.

Dumplings, eggs, pork, and soba noodles are other examples of auspicious New Year’s foods depending on the culture. Produce, grains, and proteins are often highlighted for their lucky symbolism.

Are There Any Taboo New Year’s Foods?

Just as there are lucky foods to eat on New Year’s, there are also some items considered taboo or unlucky to avoid:

  • In the Southern U.S., greens like spinach and collards may be seen as unlucky, only being eaten later in January.
  • Lobster and chicken are avoided in some Western cultures, as previously mentioned.
  • In China, pineapple and pear are sometimes avoided as their Chinese names sound similar to “separation” or “farewell.”
  • Eating beef may be seen as taboo for Hindus celebrating New Year’s.
  • Crying or broken candy or cakes must be thrown away, as cracks signify broken relationships.

Depending on culture and region, New Year’s traditions have their fair share of lucky dos and taboo don’ts for the holiday menu.

What Are Some Lucky New Year’s Preparations for Chicken?

If you want to harness the luck of chicken for your New Year’s celebration, here are some great ways to prepare it:

Whole Roast Chicken

Choose a high-quality whole chicken. Truss it, season well with salt and pepper, stuff it with aromatic herbs, vegetables, or citrus. Roast in a 450°F oven until browned and cooked through.

Chicken Wings

Season wings with sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and honey. Roast or air fry until crispy. Frying them may make them even luckier by resembling gold nuggets.

Chicken Soup

For cold winter celebrations, chicken soup made from a whole chicken or with wings, legs, and broth is warm, comforting, and lucky.

Chicken and Dumplings

Combine cooked chicken with doughy dumplings makes for a substantial lucky meal. The dumplings represent fortune.

Chicken Feet

Chicken feet are a prized delicacy for many New Year’s festivals. Marinate and braise or deep fry them for a crispy, gelatinous treat.

Lucky Chicken Recipe Ingredients Preparation Method
Whole Roast Chicken 1 whole chicken, herbs, lemon, garlic, pepper, salt, butter Rub chicken with butter, stuff with herbs and lemon. Roast uncovered at 450°F for 1 hour until browned and 165°F internal temperature.
Chicken Wings Chicken wings, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, garlic, cornstarch Toss wings in soy sauce, honey, and oil. Roast at 425°F for 30 mins, tossing once.
Chicken Noodle Soup Chicken carcass and wings, vegetables, noodles, chicken stock Simmer chicken bones/wings for 4 hours. Add vegetables and noodles. Simmer 30 mins until tender.


The long-held tradition of eating chicken on New Year’s day stems from beliefs across cultures about the chicken’s symbolism of luck, prosperity, and fertility for the coming year. For those who celebrate Lunar New Year or want to integrate lucky foods into their holiday, chicken remains a go-to dish packed with auspicious meaning. From roasted whole chicken to wings, feet, and noodle soup, prepare chicken to summon fortune in the new year ahead.

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