The Symbol of Completeness

I would say that Chinese New Year is like Thanksgiving for Americans, as most have to have a turkey as part of the feast.  As for the Chinese, and not so full breed Chinese like us, my dad would search for his chicken or duck every Chinese New Year.

Not hard to find this in the supermarket you might think, but it’s not your average chicken, this, the chicken must be presented with a head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness. Every year he would go to Charlotte to get his deep fried duck, but since the prediction for the snow last Friday, he had to find other places locally.  He was told by his friend that he could get it from the Hmong store, he just has to order ahead of time and they’ll have it killed and ready to be pickup, with a head, tail and feet. This is a symbol of completeness.


  1. Nye,
    I know what you mean my mom was trying to order the whole chickens and ducks from a farm market near her place, she wants to order with all the heads and feet. They don’t sell it so she end up going into the city at china town. The two snow storm that hit the northeast for past week certainly didn’t help. They too have to venture out to buy the necessary items to do the the ceromony.
    They have to do couple more ceremonies so more food to chow down.

    • salalao, when we were living in NYC, it was easy to find a whole chicken or duck, actually you can find almost anything there, you just have to ask and they’ll bring it out from the back. But in a small town with less Chinese population, there’s not that many stores that would have it, and the weather condition made things worse I’m afraid.

    • Scott, I’m not too crazy about fresh killed poultry, unlike the chicken that we find in the store, these have a very distinctive smell. I passed on the whole chicken or duck and ate the other stuff that my dad served. And to think that one day I will have to carry the family tradition.

  2. Only thing I ate that was served whole was a fish. I’m not a fan of duck, so I’d go for chicken. I didn’t eat chicken served like this before, but I do eat chicken feet!

    Happy Chinese New Year, by the way.

    • lady0fdarkness, thanks. I like the whole fish, that’s how they serve it in Laos with sweet and sour sauce pour on top of it, yummy. the whole chicken is another story, this one got put back in the fridge, we didn’t have the heart to cut it up.

  3. I can’t pick up those chicken feet at the dim sum and starting to chew on it. For some reasons, I always tried to picture where those chicken feet been and with that thought in mind is impossible to eat it:-).

    I think I’m the only one in family doesn’t even try it. My 11 years old niece loves chicken feet.

    • seeharhed, if you think like that, then most food items are not very appetizing. It doesn’t bother me to try, but I don’t like it, my mom used to put them in Kang Keelek all the time.

  4. Like the Hmong, we have to have a full chicken for new year, they use the chicken to predict the up coming year or some sort. It’s very interesting. The chicken must be alive when they get it, use it to “call the soul” then after that, we kill the chicken, then use a few pieces of meat to call our ancestors to come eat then we eat as soon as my dad finishes feeding the ancestors. Actually there are more than one chicken, the main chicken is used for the soul calling, killed, plucked and clean, then it hangs on the alter for I believe one night and then we cook the chicken for dinner the next night. But during the “soul calling” we would have oen or two other chicken for a small family feast, after my dad feeds our ancestors. the chiken must have a head, tail, wings and feet also. They also uses the chickens feet and tongue to tell the future or soemthing like that.

    • mozemoua, I heard of using the chicken feet to tell the future, I think if they were to spread out then someone in the family has to travel and if they were closed, then no traveling and my sisters and I were just talking about this and our chicken feet closed, so no traveling in the near future. 🙂 I wonder if your interpretation of the chicken feet is the same as ours, and it would be interesting to know what they are.

  5. I’ve never asked which I should, I will ask and let you know. But I do know that we normally have I believe a female and a male chicken that we used. I am not sure, but I THINK the female chicken is to tell the son/boys of the house’s fortune while the male is to tell the daughter/girls of the houses fortune. From what i’ve seen and heard I believe if the chicken’s feet’s craws are bent it means one thing (either good or bad) and if it doesnt bend it means another thing. I really should ask. Also they use the chickens beat to tell fortunes also. I should really ask when I see my parents, or maybe I should ask my Shaman aunt. I’ll report back to you when I am able to get some answer, I too is very interested in it.

    • mozemoua, maybe you can blog about it when you find out. I would love to know the meaning in different cultures.

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