At Viet Duong’s house in Houston, after everyone’s bellies were full of curry and caramelized salted tofu during the New Year celebration, they would dig into something else: fruit.
In addition to oranges and apples, they often had dragon fruit and star fruit, which are supposed to bring good luck. Mr. Duong’s parents always cut up the fruit and placed it in the refrigerator so it was ready to be served right after the main course, said Mr. Duong, 36, a health care worker.
“There was never cake or ice cream,” he said, but “there are always cut fruits.”
Linda Trinh Vo, a professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Irvine, said that fruit was “a language of love” during Lunar New Year and that it could be given in many ways. Some families grow their own tangerines or kumquats to give away, while others give roots or seeds from fruit plants in their yards. Fruit can also be purchased in neatly packed gift boxes at grocery stores.
“It’s hard in many Asian American cultures to say the words ‘I love you,’” she said, “so they do it through serving these special delicacies.”
Whether it comes wrapped in a box or sliced on a plate, fruit is seen in many Asian cultures as a silent gesture of love, said Randy Su, 22, of Toronto, who is studying for his master’s degree in teaching.
At Mr. Su’s home on Lunar New Year, his parents serve plates of cut fruits “like a party tray” to their guests, he said.
The fruit is “a show of hospitality,” he said, but it’s also a way to show the guests that “they’re thinking about you and care for you and love you.”