The Real Reason This Traditional Candy Box Is So Important For Lunar New Year

Candy boxes may not be something everyone would consider part of a traditional celebration, but they are a must-have for every home that celebrates the Lunar New Year. Unlike the trick-or-treat candy containers that come out during Halloween, these round or octagonal red or gold boxes (which can be made with more traditional lacquer or more economical plastic) come with removable sections that are meant to be filled with a specific kind of treat. 

The boxes, also known as the trays of togetherness or "cyun hap," are said to go back more than a millennium (via CNN). These traditional candy boxes sit out for the 15-day Spring Festival that kicks off on the first day of the Lunar New Year, which is on February 12th this year. You can't fill a tray of togetherness with fun-sized Snicker bars, leftover candy canes, and a few Peeps because the box, like most items that come out of storage during this particular seasonal celebration, is loaded with tidbits that all have their own meanings. 

Each of the treats placed in the boxes is meant to symbolize different ways good fortune might manifest itself during the new year. There are watermelon seeds, which are dyed red and symbolize fertility. Red Lucky Candy and milky White Rabbit caramels represent wishes for a "sweet" start to the new year. The boxes are also packed with gold chocolate coins and mandarin oranges (with leaves attached) for riches and prosperity (via CBC).

Candy wrapped in gold foil works, too

In addition to the aforementioned foods, a tray of togetherness is filled with a selection of dried and candied fruits and vegetables like winter melon, lotus root, kumquats, and coconut shreds or chunks which symbolize good health, abundance. The Cantonese are partial to pistachios, whose name translates into "happy fruit" while the Taiwanese are content with peanuts (via OFTaiwan). The nut presence is a way of inviting more good wishes for the new year ahead, in case there isn't enough luck already.

There is a limited range of options available for those who want to channel a bit of luck but who also think having dyed snacks along with candied fruit and vegetables could be a tough sell. Brands like Almond Roca and Ferrero Rocher now appear in traditional candy boxes because they come wrapped in gold foil, which can also be viewed as a symbol of wealth. "I believe these modern adaptations are more attractive to the younger generations and foreigners. It encourages those who don't know much about the traditions of cyun hap to understand the meanings of Lunar New Year," Gloria Chan, a spokesperson with the Hong Kong Culture Heritage Studies and Promotion Association tells CNN.