Guest post by @fienuts
I am not Chinese even though I have a fair skin but I’m often mistaken for one. I live in a country where diversity & multicultural races crisscross each other, especially during the many festivals celebrated in Malaysia. Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is one of those celebrations and I’d like to share with you some of my favorite things, which I feel would be your favorite thing too if you were to join in this auspicious festival. Here is how you can celebrate Chinese New Year:
1. Lion Dance
Before the celebration begins, a lion dance will be seen in most shopping malls to attract shoppers & visitors. This brings “ong” (luck) to the businesses and evicts bad spirits from the premises. The members of the lion dance practice their moves to perfection. It’s not an easy thing to do as 3 members will have to move at ease together as they are running, balancing one another on their shoulders or jumping from pole to pole.
2. Card Games
Many people visits their close friends and relatives. After having a good meal by the hosts, they would gather to play “Twenty-One,” a card game which involves money. It is also deemed lucky to try your luck at winning money during this day but beginners should start off with a smaller amounts and move on to larger sums of money when they’re ready. The thing I found interesting was how they would put “good luck charms” on the money during the game such as oranges, angpow packet, lucky handkerchief, hello kitty keychain or anything to give them a heads up in the game.
3. “Kam” or Gold
“Kam” means oranges. It symbolizes gold to the Chinese, especially during the celebration. That is why a lot of people will buy Mandarin Oranges for their homes or to give away when they are visiting a friend or relative. The more “gold” the better! Whenever I see stalls with boxes & crates of Mandarin Oranges on the roadside, in malls or sundry shops, I know that Chinese New Year is near.
“Angpow” or money packet is normally given by married couples to the friends or relatives who are still single. They are also given to people who work hard for their living such as the security guards around your home, janitors or cleaners. When I received my “angpow” it normally comes with a “Wish you good luck for this year!” greeting or “Have a blessed year!” or “Many, many happiness this year,” which always makes me feel that the money should be kept for good use as it has been blessed with “wishes of luck.”
Whenever you visit someone during Chinese New Year, it is always courteous to bring a gift for the hostess. Most times, the host will return her gratitude by serving a plate of sweet treats for you to eat, ensuring “a sweet year ahead.” Sweets and similar dried fruit goods are normally stored in a red or black Chinese candy box. I had these served to me and chose the coconut version as a starter.
6. Yee Sang
There’s always a reason to eat good food and having the “yee sang” is one of them. It contains a raw fish salad with a variety of crackers, which symbolizes good fortune & good luck. How it is eaten is quite an adventure. One has to pick up the chopsticks and mix these ingredients together and bring it up as high as they can for better luck & fortune. It normally ends up in a mess but still edible!
Fie is almost five feet tall. She lives in a sunshiny place called Malaysia and loves to promote it! Despite being vertically challenged, Fie is a travel fanactic who loves to randomly go anywhere just to see, touch & smell something different instead of just slaving herself to the advertising industry. Fie has since been bit by the travel bug and would like to spread this friendly infection to everyone she encounters. Check out her blog http://fie-nuts.blogspot.com, LIKE her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @fienuts.