Chinese New Year is also known as “Spring Festival” and “Lunar New Year” because it comes from the springtime and is obsolete based on the Chinese lunar calendar.
Every Chinese New Year is designated as “the year of” among the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, which creature is supposed to characterize that year and all those born in it.
Chinese New Year is the most significant yearly recurring festival for people of Chinese ancestry all around the world.
It’s been celebrated for over 1,000 years — maybe more, and the customs involved are deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. For many, it’s also a religious holiday, filled with prayers, offerings, and other acts of devotion.
In Malaysia, as everywhere, people prepare for Chinese New Year well ahead of time.
Houses are cleaned out completely before it arrives to “sweep out any bad luck,” but brooms are hidden away on New Year’s Day for fear of “sweeping away the great chance” that the coming of a new year brings.
New clothes, to be worn on New Year’s Day, and a huge stash of food for New Year’s Eve dinner, can also be bought in advance, which makes the shopping centers very busy this season.
Chinese New Year is in fact celebrated for 15 consecutive days, however, the first 3 days are important.
The 15th and last day, Chap Goh Mei is also a huge event, where homes are decorated with an abundance of brightly colored lights.
It’s a method of ending with a grand finale as opposed to the festivities simply fading away slowly. On the following days, however, many will encourage friends and outright strangers to come dine together.
This “open house” policy can be practiced during other Malaysian vacations and at large public Chinese New Year gatherings placed on at Malaysian community halls.
It shouldn’t be tough to get invited to a party.
Other Chinese New Year customs include: “Yee Sang,” a vegetable medley dish eaten by projecting its bits high in the atmosphere with chopsticks to bring good luck; hanging up “duilian,” scrolls bearing famous lines form Chinese poetry; attending lion and dragon dances; betting card games, provided that the stakes are small; giving out presents of cash in little red ang-pao bundles; and attending fireworks displays, the largest of which are in Chinese districts of Kuala Lumpur and in cities with large Chinese populations.
Chinese New Year Food
The Chinese Reunion dinner is among the most significant elements during Chinese New Year.
The reunion dinner that’s held on the eve of New Year is a time in which families gather over an extravagant meal with a great deal of laughter and noise.
Food plays an integral role for the Chinese and most Malaysians.
Hence, during the reunion dinner, an individual will have the ability to see all kinds of dishes around the table such as the famed Yee Sang, stir-fry leeks, stick others and cakes.
A traditional dish, Yee Sang includes of thinly sliced pickled vegetables, strips of raw fish (generally salmon), other sauces and condiments like ground peanuts.
This dish is also called the Teochew-style raw fish salad.
The popular practice is that everybody gathers around the table to throw the ingredients high in the air while exclaiming well wishes and joyous exclamations of what they hope for in the next year.
The importance of the throw symbolizes an increase in wealth, prosperity and all good things. Some people today feel that the higher you toss the saladthe more good things will come your way.
Vegetable in Cantonese is “choy” which rhymes with ‘riches’. Hence, fresh veggies are significance to the Chinese particularly during festive celebrations.
It is among the most popular and must-have vegetable for Chinese New Year since the ability to plan and count is significant to the Chinese who are famous for good business abilities and judgments.
The Tray of Togetherness:
Preserved kumquats, coconut, longans, red melon seeds, lotus seeds and peanuts are a few of the candies which make up”The Tray of Togetherness”.
There are typically 8 compartments into the tray as 8 is a symbolic number representing prosperity. Hence, 8 distinct kinds of candies are served or given as presents.
These candies represent all good things: kumquats for prosperity, red melon seeds for pleasure, coconut for togetherness and sweets for a pleasant and abundant life for the next year.
The Tray of Togetherness is something that you’ll see in the majority of the homes if not every home you see.
Sticky Cake is also called “nian gao” which means ‘season cake’ when interpreted.
As the name implies, the cake is tacky because it’s made from glutinous rice flour, brown sugar and oil. “Gao”, which seems like the word ‘high or tall’, signifies that one will reach new heights and move forward whether in business or life generally in the next year.
Some individuals steam these sticky cakes with white sesame seeds or reddish dates as dates are proven to attract early prosperity.
The sweetness in this cake symbolizes life of sweetness and freshness and the round shape signifies reunion that’s the heart of Chinese New Year.
Decoration for Chinese New Year 2019
The preparations for the holidays begin a month prior when folks buy gifts, materials for decorations, food and clothing.
Also then begins the house cleaning to chase away bad luck, and the windows and doors are being repainted, usually in red.
These are then decorated with red paper strips (Chun Lian) with unique wishes of happiness, prosperity and long life written on them.
This is a time full of much joy and enthusiasm as the Chinese prepare to welcome the New Year.
These decorations are set up every year and many families keep them in the home even after the party to usher in good fortune and prosperity throughout the year.
Lanterns [Symbol of Chinese New Year]:
The lantern is one of the most obvious symbols of Chinese New Year.
The concept of lanterns is to produce a cheerful and lively environment as the full moon appears in the bright skies.
That’s the reason on the 15th day of Chinese New Year, also called the Lantern Festival, the Chinese collect to maintain up colourful lanterns at night.
The lantern was used as a source of lighting, but now, people have these lanterns as lamp shades or decorative items for their insides.
They come in a number of sizes, shapes and colors nonetheless, the most common would still be the red round lantern that now you can see almost everywhere during Chinese New Year.
The Chinese believe that there’ll be no fruits without blossoms; consequently, it’s extremely important to have flowers and plants as decorations during Chinese New Year.
Plants signify growth and blossoms symbolize wealth.
Cherry Blossoms signify endurance and reliability while Pussy Willows signify new beginnings and prosperity and is called the harbinger of spring.
Pussy Willows, “yin liu” in Chinese that seems like “cash flowing in” is a plant which may be observed in the majority of Chinese families decorated with gold ingots and red packets to attract wealth and prosperity.
Some families also send them as gifts when they see friends during Chinese New Year.
Couplets are extremely much traditionally important to the Chinese.
They’re pairs of lines of poetry usually hand-written and seen glued on the sides of doorways of Chinese houses or sometimes in the inside.
These couplets are usually written with black or gold ink on red paper and put up a couple of days before Chinese New Year.
Traditionally, it was a means to help kids understand how to write Mandarin. But these days, couplets are set up as decorations to express optimistic thoughts, aspirations and great fortune for the New Year.
Orange and Tangerines:
It’s almost customary to have oranges and tangerines during Chinese New Year; else it won’t feel complete.
Oranges, which seems like ‘golden’ in Cantonese, signify wealth while tangerines symbolize good tidings because it seems like ‘good fortune’ in Chinese.
Hence, they are symbols of abundant wealth and happiness.
Etiquette says that you must bring a bag of oranges or tangerines when visiting friends or family during Chinese New Year.
Quite often, these tangerines are awarded with their leaves intact to signify a secure connection between the giver and the recipient.
On another note, for newlyweds, the leaves represent the branching of the couple into starting a family with several children.
Dragon Dances [Great luck, Wealth and Prosperity]:
Dragons in the Western world are called gigantic, fire-breathing creatures that steal princesses, eat people and ruin their houses.
This however isn’t true for the Chinese men and women. To them, dragons are mythical creatures that are friendly and helpful.
They’re known to frighten away bad spirits, bring wisdom, great luck, wealth and prosperity.
Dragons are known to have special characteristics and powers that let them fly in the air, swim in the sea and walk on land.
It’s the tradition of the Han people to have dragon dances and that’s the reason every year during Chinese New Year you will see dragon dances being played in houses, condominiums and even store fronts in shopping malls.
The dragons used in Dragon dances are made from fabric, held and increased by means of a pole and this dragon steps from a few metres extended around a hundred metres.
Usually there’ll be one man who functions as the mind; and as the mind, he entices the Dragon by using a pole and the Dragon will accompany him apparently trying to find wisdom.
Along with the artistic dance group as well as the accompaniment of rhythmic music, the dead fabric-made dragon comes to life.
The patterns of the Dragon dancing and colors of dragons vary based on the creativity of the group.
However, every dance routine carry a meaning and a few illustration of dance patterns are “Threading Money”, “Seeking Pearl”, and “Whirlpool”.
These routines are combined formation that involves running to spiraling so as to create the dragon’s body turn into a wave-like movement, much like a true dragon.
Ang Pau Packets
Ang Paus, that are small red packets containing new cash, play a significant role in the Chinese culture. A young orphan boy battled and defeated the evil dragon that was terrorizing the village then.
All the villagers were thrilled and hence, they introduced the young boy with an Ang Pau. Since that time, Ang Pau became part of the Chinese heritage.
However being in such a multi-cultured nation like Malaysia, cultures are assimilated. Both the Malays and Indians have accepted that the Ang Pau giving practice as part of the cultural practice.
The Malays generally give green packs of the identical size of an Ang Pau but adorned with Islamic themes during Hari Raya.
The Indians, on the other hand, give purple colored packets to kids during Deepavali. Ang Paus, directly interpreted are known as red packets. Now, why red rather than black or grey?
Red, to the Chinese, is a color that represents prosperity and great luck. The Chinese also believe it is a colour to frighten away evil spirits.
Hence, most Ang Paus are reddish adorned with Chinese components and well wishes like Chinese tangerines, gold pineapples, willows and dragons.
These Ang Paus are often given by the married adults to young children as an indicator of continued prosperity. The amount given isn’t such a big deal as getting Ang Pau, whether small or large sums, has always been fun and exciting, especially for young kids.
However, it’s important to note that if giving an Ang Pau, it ought to be a red envelope rather than white as cash put in white envelopes are intended for funerals.
It’s often anticipated if not habitual that Ang Paus given out are brand new, both the package and the cash inside.
Hence, used Ang Pau packets are often recycled for decorations or some even throw them off.
At times, their designs are a lot nicer and more vibrant than those we buy from bookstores or stationary stores.
Ang Pau giving isn’t just practiced during Chinese New Year; its own convenience and practicality has gotten many people to practice the same when giving a gift during auspicious occasions like birthdays, weddings and birthdays.
Before New Year, the Chinese decorate their living rooms with flower vases, plates filled with oranges and tangerines (representing great happiness) and a menu with candies with eight types of dry fruit.
On the walls and in the doors, they set red paper strips (Chun Lian), where they write greetings as: “Can you enjoy a perpetual health” or” The Star of Happiness, the Star of Health and the Star of Longevity may shine upon you”.