In Cantonese, the word for lettuce sounds just like the word for "rising fortune", so naturally, lettuce wraps with savory meat fillings are a perfect way to ring in the Chinese New Year.
Serving spring rolls on New Year's Eve denotes hope for wealth because the crisp, fried shell of a spring roll looks vaguely like a gold bar.
Because of their shape, noodles symbolize long life and it is considered bad luck to cut a noodle. Instead, diners are expected to slurp up their noodles along with the hot broth they are served in. Slurping helps to cool off the hot noodles, and it expresses appreciation to the cook.
Dumplings are usually formed in the shape of an ancient Chinese block of gold or silver, so this popular dim-sum treat also symbolizes prosperity.
The Mandarin word for fish, "yue", sounds similar to the word for abundance, so fish is often served at the end of the New Year's Eve meal to symbolize hope for good fortune in the coming year.