Once each year, the busiest cities in Malaysia come to a sudden standstill and everything goes silent. Anywhere else in the world you might think that the city was under an invasion but in Malaysia, it can only mean that it’s Chinese New Year. In Malaysia, most people move to the cities to get a better job but it is during the major festivals like Chinese New Year when everyone packs their bags and heads back to their hometown, leaving the cities almost empty.
Chinese New Year is one of the most important celebrations among the Chinese community, not just in Malaysia but also everywhere else in the world. The festival is celebrated on the first day of the new year according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar. It is a day of celebration with family reunions and loads of Open Houses to visit. While the main festivities are usually on the first day, Chinese New Year is celebrated for a period of fifteen days ending with Chap Goh Mei, a mini celebration marking the end of the festival.
The eve of Chinese New Year is an extremely important night for the family. This is the night for the family reunion dinner when close members travel from all over the country to meet at their parents’ home to bond and enjoy a great meal. The spread will be generally huge with each dish assigned a special significance. Fish signifies wealth and prosperity, noodles signify longevity while whole chicken signifies happiness especially in marriage, at least that’s what who one of my friends explained it to me. But the one dish that is the most important above all else is called the Yee Sang which consists of shredded vegetables and raw fish served with a variety of condiments. It is tradition for the chinese new year singapore fireworks entire family to each pick up a pair of chopsticks as toss the Yee Sang together as high as they can for abundance. The higher they toss, the more fortune will come their way in the new year. Then at exactly midnight, the entire country is rocked with the loud sound of firecrackers reverberating through the night, marking the start of a brand new Lunar Year.
New Year Day begins at the crack of dawn. Everyone gets up early and don their brand new clothes. Red is a very auspicious color to the Chinese, so that color is displayed prominently everywhere, from the color of their clothes to their decorations. Just above the doorway of the main entrance, a long red piece of cloth is hung for prosperity and red firecrackers are lit throughout the day. Traditionally, the first day of Chinese New Year is reserved for visiting relatives but these days everyone is welcomed into the celebrants homes. In fact, one very unique concept practiced nationwide is the Open House concept, where the doors are opened to anyone to visit. Visitors are offered cakes and soft drinks and the customary Mandarin orange. It is also tradition for married couples to give small packets of money called Ang Pow to kids and unmarried adults.
Those who have some extra money to spare will hire specialized dance troupes to perform Lion Dances in their homes to bring good luck and ward off any evil spirits. Performances range from simple movements and at the entrance of the home which to more extravagant acrobatics which will cost a lot more and is generally performed for businesses.