Gong Xi Fa Cai- Chinese New Year Celebrations

Gong xi fa cai-Chinese new year celebration

There are very many stories, traditions associated with the Chinese New Year Celebrations. During the past couple of years our travels have been rewarded with ample anecdotes and pre-warnings. As we dive head long into the third Chinese New Year in Penang.. I thought it may be a good idea for me to pen them down as the storage space up in my brain is rapidly being filled up..

Following the 12 animal cycle calendar an animal is chosen as the symbol for the year. Many predictions are made based on these animals. The new year is celebrated to bring in luck and fortune to the new harvest season too ( this is similar to many Asian countries)

Customs and practices
Spring cleaning

Prior to the arrival of Chinese new year there is a lot of cleaning, resetting the houses and hanging of red accessories and door decor. Red is an auspicious color symbolizing festivities. Now mind you no cleaning is allowed on day one and two of the Chinese new year… (pretty cool eh!!.. I like that). Hanging of the huge balloon like lanterns symbolizes this season. done in red and gold these are a symbol of prosperity and vitality.

Yu sheng

the Prosperity toss , is common among the Chinese from the Malaysian and Singapore province. Seems like, with disputable historic origins , this salad tossing is perhaps the one you will get easily invited to. with both fish based version and vegetarian ones arranges based on preferences , its absolutely fun to be a part of. Typically the platter has fish, daikon, capsicum, oranges, pickled ginger and many more… with a generous amount of plum sauce

Reunion dinner

 On the eve of the New year you find a lot of Chinese rushing with gifts galore to their ancestral houses. The most important event traditionally, is this dinner for the whole family. It is such a a lovely custom to see great grand parents to the great grand children all on one table eating, chatting….. and more. If you get invited to this don’t miss it. All the food are pre- prepared and the knives put away to ward of any evil.

Oranges and tangerines

Oranges and tangerines are effective gifts if you are not so sure what to gift during this time. The word “Oranges” in Mandarin sound similar to the word ‘wealth’ and “Tangerines” sound similar to ‘Luck’. so with effective word play over the period of time these have been associated to gold and hence lucky wealth.

The lion dance

a team of two very agile dancers move with a lion head mask in various connotation to ward of evil spirits and bring in good luck. this is an interesting one to watch and enjoy

Hong pao packs

Its customary to receive a sum of money from the elders in the family. The money is placed  in brightly colored red packs. These symbolize wealth and is a a matter of pride. These are called Lai See in Cantonese. No number of 4, 8 and 13 are added to these packs.


Furthermore, as soon as the day begins you can hear fire crackers everywhere. Clad in their red and golden outer cover are these crackers. This  is must to do item on the new year list. These noises are bound to bring cheer and happiness to you and the neighbor hood. So join in and have fun.

Gong Xi Fa Cai

You can read about other travel adventures from us


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