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Your Guide To Yusheng or “Lohei” at Singapore’s Chinese New Year

By LingoAce SG Team |SG |February 7, 2024

Chinese Cultures
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Lohei Tradition in Singapore

During the Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore, tossing Lohei is a cherished tradition that happens every year during reunion dinner. It involves vibrant tables decorated with colorful vegetables, symbolizing the prosperity desired for the upcoming year. As the name Yusheng, or more commonly known as “Lohei” suggests, one is supposed to toss the salad as high as possible before eating, as it directly translates in Cantonese to ‘tossing good fortune’. 

It is believed that the higher the toss, the greater the blessings for the participants throughout the year. This mystical belief adds anticipation and excitement to each toss as families and friends gather for this age-old ritual to an auspicious year ahead. 

The Lohei we know today as the "Seven-Colored Prosperity Toss" originated in 1960s Singapore. Reflecting the city-state's diverse culture, this dish blends flavors and traditions from various culinary backgrounds. Known as the "Fortune Toss" or "New Year Toss," Lohei embodies innovation and adaptation, hallmarks of Singaporean cuisine. 

At the heart of the Lohei experience are the Yu sheng sayings, or Lohei sayings, each carrying deep symbolism. They evoke abundance, wealth, and success, infusing the dish with profound meaning. With each ingredient having a specific meaning and auspicious saying behind it, tossing the annual Lohei represents one’s wishes and aspirations, becoming a canvas for expressing hopes for the year ahead. 

As this dish is often associated with thriving businesses, it's popular among entrepreneurs during the Chinese New Year. The higher the toss, the closer the wishes come to reality! So, let's make a mess and enjoy the festivities! After the toss, simply wrap the newspaper used on the table and dispose of it, making cleanup a breeze! 

Lohei Ingredients and Its Various Significance 

1. 年年有余 (nián nián yǒu yú) - Abundance Throughout the Year 

- 生鱼 (shēng yú) - Raw Fish 

- Symbolism: Signifies surplus wealth, food, and even scores in exams. The word "余" (yú) for surplus sounds like "fish" in Chinese, hence the addition of raw fish slices in the salad. 

 

2. 大吉大利 (dà jí dà lì) - Great Luck and Fortune 

- 柚子 (yòu zi) - Pomelo 

- Symbolism: Indicates the arrival of auspiciousness and smooth sailing. 

3. 招财进宝 (zhāo cái jìn bǎo) - Attracting Wealth and Treasure 

- 胡椒粉和五香粉 (hú jiāo fěn hé wǔ xiāng fěn) - Pepper and Five Spice Powder 

- Symbolism: Attracts wealth and auspiciousness. These ingredients are often packed in red packets, similar to the ones given during the lunar new year, symbolizing good luck and fortune. 

4. 财源广进, 一本万利 (cái yuán guǎng jìn, yī běn wàn lì) - Wide Flow of Wealth, Profit in Every Venture 

- 油 (yóu) - Oil 

- Symbolism: Represents the flow of wealth from all directions. 

5. 鸿运当头 (hóng yùn dāng tóu) - Good Luck is Approaching 

- 红萝卜 (hóng luó bo) - Carrots 

- Symbolism: Red symbolizes luck, and "鸿运" (hóng yùn) sounds like "red" in Chinese, indicating luck. 

6. 青春常驻 (qīng chūn cháng zhù) - Youthful Vigor Everlasting 

- 青萝卜 (qīng luó bo) - Green Radish 

- Symbolism: Signifies perpetual youthfulness and vitality. 

7. 步步高升, 风生水起 (bù bù gāo shēng, fēng shēng shuǐ qǐ) - Rapid Progress, Prosperity Flourishes 

- 白萝卜 (bái luó bo) - White Radish 

- Symbolism: Signifies thriving careers, job promotions, and reaching the pinnacle of success. 

8. 金银满屋, 生意兴隆 (jīn yín mǎn wū, shēng yì xīng lóng) - House Filled with Gold and Silver, Business Flourishes 

- 芝麻和花生 (zhī má hé huā shēng) - Sesame Seeds and Crushed Peanuts 

- Symbolism: Represents a home filled with wealth and prosperity. 

9. 满地黄金 (mǎn dì huáng jīn) - Gold Everywhere 

- 薄脆饼干 (báo cuì bǐng gān) - Golden Crackers 

- Symbolism: Implies endless wealth. The crispy golden crackers resemble pieces of gold. 

10. 甜甜蜜蜜 (tián tián mì mì) - Sweet and Blissful 

- 酸梅酱 (suān méi jiàng) - Plum Sauce 

- Symbolism: Represents a life as sweet and blissful as plum sauce. 

 How Lohei Has Changed Over The Years

As Lohei evolves, so do its ingredients and techniques. While rooted in tradition, modern versions embrace innovation, catering to changing tastes.In Guangdong, Lohei is traditionally made with snakehead fish, while in Singapore, due to the prevalence of mackerel, it's commonly made with mackerel. However, in the 1990s, some restaurants started using salmon to cater to the younger generation's preference for Japanese cuisine. 

In 2015, due to several cases of streptococcal infections associated with the consumption of Chinese-style Lohei, the Singapore government indefinitely banned the sale of raw fish dishes. Since then, mackerel has disappeared from Singaporeans' New Year Lohei, and salmon has become the mainstream choice. 

With a growing emphasis on healthy eating, many restaurants have also introduced healthier versions of Lohei, incorporating more vegetables and fruits or using olive oil, lemon, or grape vinegar instead of traditional sweet and sour sauce.  

Through various refinements, Lohei has become an indispensable dish for festive occasions. Watch this video to see LingoAce's children sharing with you the various steps and meanings of tossing the raw fish salad!

Want your child to learn more of such content? For the Month of February, simply sign up for a free trial, to receive a free 和LingoAce一起过春节 CNY Special recorded class! 

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