Lucky Goldfish

“May you have abundance year after year.” –Chinese New Year saying

My daughter brought home home this art project from her Chinese school the other week:

abundance saying

In Chinese writing, the characters meaning “fish” and “abundance” sound alike. It’s lucky to have the fish motif displayed all around your home or business because it signifies wealth. During lunar new year celebrations, people often feast on whole fish (and if you eat it all during a meal, you get bonus points) for good luck for the incoming year.

When I was growing up, we also had paintings of fish framed all around our family restaurant. In fact, I have one of them in my kitchen now. Beyond statues and pictures, though, people also own live fish for good feng shui. Some folks have koi ponds right in their backyards (I first saw this in the sixth grade).

Do I own fish? Well, over the years, I’ve had my fair share of carnival wins. Actually, the people running the booths always took pity on me. Examples are:

  • In high school, we held a school carnival. My brother’s friend was manning the goldfish booth. This was the era where you could actually throw balls into cups with the goldfish swimming in them. Of course, I kept missing. After about ten tries, he actually gave me a fish, so that we could move the line along.
  • As an adult, I went to another festival. Same game (but now the goldfish were kept in a lovely tank area instead). I aimed and missed five times. The man gave me a fish anyway (probably because the carnival was closing down, and he wanted to get rid of them).
  • When I went to the 626 Night Market, I didn’t even try my luck. As I was lounging around with my kids, though, a passerby decided to give me her winnings. (See the full fairy tale version of the day here.)

Fun fact: I’ve now owned these donated fish for about 1.5 years. 

Any goldfish or carnival stories you want to share?

Foodie Friday First: Osmanthus Tea
Foodie Friday: Thousand-Layer Pancake


  1. thank you for sharing about the good luck of fish
    i have a few paintings with fish as well as a pond with 6 koi in it
    fun to know about their gift
    thank you also for sharing about the lady bugs, it made me smile
    i think that might be good luck too


  1. […] are so many kinds of fish cakes in Chinese cuisine. (Maybe because the words for fish and abundance sound awfully alike.) Some are brightly colored and swim around in noodles and broth. Others, chunkier and […]

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