5 Chinese New Year Traditions We Love
Updated: Aug 6, 2018
Chinese New Year is coming up, so it is only natural for anticipation for the beloved celebration to hike up with each passing day. Why, even our office has been done up something pretty with Chinese New Year decorations! Cannot wait lor. Can you really blame us?
That said, let’s go over some of our favourite Chinese New Year traditions. In good ol’ Malaysia, cultural festivities are meant for everyone, after all!
In the days leading up to Chinese New Year, you’ll see oranges just about everywhere. This is because these are seen as a symbol of prosperity and good luck. If you’re looking for a perfect gift to give to your Chinese friend, colleague or relative, a box of mandarin oranges or tangerines is always a good idea. Or you know, red angpow packets because who doesn’t love money? Don’t be surprised if the price for oranges is higher than usual! In light of the upcoming celebration, the price of these prized fruits will soar.
Tossing of Yee Sang (or Yusheng)
The majority of us are familiar with this one, even among those of us who aren’t Chinese. Did you know, though, that this is a particularly unique tradition among the Chinese communities in Malaysia and Singapore? If you didn’t, now you do! This tradition involves the tossing of Yee Sang, a Teochew-style raw fish salad, for the sole purpose of good fortune. The ritual is carried out by having everyone gather around the dish with chopsticks in hand, and to have them mix and toss the salad together while shouting “Loh Hei” whilst announcing their wishes. The higher you toss, the better.
Like most massive celebrations in Malaysia, we make it a point to “balik kampung” and have a feast with our friends and family. The latter, in particular. These Chinese New Year reunion dinners takes place on the eve of Chinese New Year, and as one would expect, are normally held at home. As for the food itself, the most common dish one can find at Chinese New Year eve dinners is steamboat. This option can last for hours on end, which makes it all the more ideal for reunion dinners; it’s a fantastic way for family to bond via conversation during the meal!
Chap Goh Meh aka Lantern Festival
Traditionally, Chap Goh Meh was also known as the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day. In Malaysia and Singapore, there is a tradition where women would write their phone numbers on mandarin oranges before throwing them into a river. These oranges would then be scooped up by men. Most prominently, however, Chap Goh Meh is known as the last day of the two-week Chinese New Year celebration, when they would end the festivities with a bang. Firecrackers, fireworks, performances, you name it. With such a huge celebration, it is only apt to end it as loudly as it had begun.
A strong favourite among locals and tourists alike, the Lion Dance is an act that many look forward to during Chinese New Year. It is a vibrant performance that involves two people in each lion costume, backed by powerful music of beating drums, cymbals and gongs. While it may not look like it to some, the Lion Dance is not an easy job, as the modern version of it involves extreme physical skills to jump from pole to pole. Interestingly enough, Malaysia has won nearly every Lion Dance World Championship, besting teams from Hong Kong and China. Malaysia pride, ya’ll.
Of course, there is way more to Chinese New Year than the aforementioned; these are just some of our favourites. What about you? Do you have a favourite Chinese New Year tradition? Let us know in the Comment section below!
Written by Crunch's Melissa Kartini