Did you know that many Filipino New Year customs are based on Chinese superstitions? Eating round fruits, making noise to drive away bad spirits, eating noodles for long life, paying off debts… These are all rooted in Chinese New Year practices. Here’s another: The Chinese believe that serving whole fish will bring luck.
The significance of fish in Chinese culture have several facets.
First, the Chinese word for fish, yu, sounds like the word for riches (abundance).
Second, the fish must be served whole with the head and tail intact as it represents family togetherness and unity.
Third, if serving a whole fish in a gathering, reserve the head for the most important guest. On the table, make sure that the fish head is pointing toward that guest too.
Of course, not everyone is into superstition. I know I’m not. But I do love whole fish and I especially love the head and belly. If modern life has made you forget how delicious whole fish is, or if you’ve never tried having your fish this way, let me inspire you.