A guide to making your own Chinese New Year Candy Box (Tray of Togetherness) and the significance of each treat placed in there.
I never understood the significance of the Chinese New Year Candy Box a.k.a. Tray of Togetherness until much later in life. It is strange how little things I took for granted because they were there each and every year we celebrated the Chinese New Year in Malaysia were missed when we moved to the United States. Yet I could not bring myself to purchase one of those pre-filled candy boxes at the Asian grocery stores downtown because I did not like what I saw inside.
It took a while but it finally dawned on me that I can actually make my own since I do have a candy box I brought with me from Malaysia. In the past, I filled it with cookies which you may have seen in my various Chinese New Year posts at Roti n Rice over the years. A few days ago while trying to figure out the best way to share my culture with the ladies in my Women’s Bible Study group, I again thought of this candy box. This time I decided that I should filled it the traditional way with dried fruits, nuts, and candies. I figured that a Chinese New Year Candy Box would sound more interesting to people unfamiliar with the Chinese New Year celebrations. I am glad to say that the group really enjoyed reading the symbolism of each snack. Of course I also brought some of my Chinese Peanut Cookies and Hup Toh Soh (Chinese Walnut Biscuits) because let’s face it, who doesn’t love cookies?
What is a Chinese New Year Candy Box?
This is a plastic, lacquer, or porcelain container with six to eight compartments filled with special treats. The number six symbolizes luck and eight symbolizes fortune. This box is usually round to signify togetherness and red is the favorite color because it symbolizes joy and good luck. Each compartment is filled with melon seeds, dried or candied fruits, nuts, and candies signifying a good wish for the New Year. In short, it is a box of blessings for an abundant life in the coming year.
My box is a special Gifts of 6 Happiness Tupperware container I purchased many years ago in Malaysia. The good thing about this box is that it consists of six triangular containers that are airtight to keep the treats in it fresh. These containers sit on a lazy susan making it fun and easy to reach for each snack. I know you are going to ask me where you can get one. Unfortunately, I do not have the answer because this box is probably a limited edition thing. So far, I have not seen another one like it.
Filling the Chinese New Year Candy Box
Picking out the snacks is a fun thing to do. There are no shortage of auspicious snacks to choose from in East and Southeast Asia. Over here, most Asian grocery stores do carry a good selection of treats during the Chinese New Year and it will not be difficult to fill 6 to 8 compartments. However, you may or may not be able to find red melon seeds (whom some say are a must-have) at the stores. If not, simply use pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Pumpkin or sunflower seeds are also seeds, right?
This year I was a little late in preparing my candy box and so I had to be a little creative in my selections. Except for two items, all snacks were purchased at the regular grocery stores in my city.
Pineapple for Good Luck and Prosperity
I was pleasantly surprised to find dried pineapple cubes at my local Sprouts. Dried pineapple slices would be better but cubes will have to do. Don’t want to miss out on the good luck!
Coconut for Togetherness and Family Unity
I could not get dried coconut ribbons here and so I used sweetened shredded coconut found at the baking aisle at my local grocery store. Family unity is so important and every candy box should have coconut for this reason.
Peanuts for Good Health and Longevity
Roasted peanuts are easy to buy. Any kind will do. You can also roast your own if preferred.
Candied Winter Melon and Ginger for Growth and Good Health
These are the only two items purchased at the Asian grocery store. You can also use candied ginger chips as an alternative. In case you are wondering about candied winter melon, you can find a brief description of it –> here.
Pistachios for Happiness
Pistachios are called happy nuts in Cantonese because they crack open a smile. We all need happiness and so definitely eat more happy nuts for a joyous year ahead.
Melon Seeds for Fertility and Many Offspring
Please pretend these roasted and salted pumpkin seeds or pepitas are melon seeds. They are definitely much more easy to eat than slippery red melon seeds that have to be cracked open with your teeth. You can also use roasted sunflower seeds. If you are a newly wed, grab a bunch of these. Like my elders used to tell me, “You keep giving out the angpows. You need to produce an offspring to receive back some!” Just saying, no pressure at all…haha!
Mandarins, Kumquats, and Chocolate Gold Ingots for Wealth and Prosperity
Finally, clementines, kumquats, and Rolos make up the wealth and prosperity wish for this New Year. I seldom buy candy and I have to confess that this is my first time tasting Rolos, a chocolate covered caramel candy. The diet can wait, we only have 15 days to eat our way into wealth and prosperity. 😉
Similar Products Used in Making This Chinese New Year Candy Box
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Displaying the Chinese New Year Candy Box
I hope I have given you some ideas and inspiration for your next Chinese New Year Candy Box. Once filled, placed your candy box and citrus fruits at a location where guests are seated, usually at the living room coffee table. Open the box and invite them to enjoy your carefully selected snacks for a sweet and abundant life in the year ahead.