Chinese New Year Celebration in Malaysia 2016

CNY paraphernalias and other decorative items on sale at PJ old town
CNY paraphernalias and other decorative items on sale at PJ old town | Source

CNY 2016 Year of Monkey Prediction

For 2016 Year of the Monkey, it is predicted that things that are related with the water element will be favorable and auspicious.

What is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year, also known as 'Spring Festival' or 'Lunar New Year', marks the beginning of a Chinese calendar and it usually falls either late January or early February.

2016 Year of the Fire Monkey

Each Chinese New Year is named after one of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac.and for 2016, it is Year of the Fire Monkey.

Chinese New Year or CNY 2016

Chinese New Year is a major celebration for the Chinese community, and is celebrated all over the world, including in Malaysia.

In Malaysia, CNY 2016 falls on Monday, 8th February and is a two-day national public holiday. So, for 2016, it will be a very long weekend until Tuesday 9th February!

However, the celebration do not end after this two-day, but continues over a 15 day period. It will end with the Lantern Festival or Chap Goh Meh, the Hokkien name that is commonly used in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia

Chinese New Year Legend

Based on legend, at midnight on every new year, a savage beast, Nian, will arrive and eat the villagers' livestock, crop and even children. One day, the villagers saw that the Nian was scared off by a child wearing red. To scare away the beast, loud noises and lights were also used. Ever since that day, red has been the color associated with the celebration. Likewise, Chinese New Year is also celebrated with the lighting of firecrackers. However, these are now very much controlled in most countries.

Chinese Lunar New Year is also the time of the year where bitterness and disputes are to be resolved, debts paid and any ill fortune and bad luck to be cleared away. This is to ensure that you will have a fresh start to the new year.

Plum blossoms, Chinese New Year symbol of courage
Plum blossoms, Chinese New Year symbol of courage | Source

Chinese New Year Symbolism, Beliefs and Traditions

The Chinese Lunar New Year celebration is abound with many symbols, beliefs and traditions. Red is the main color for the New Year celebrations and you will see people wearing red dresses, hanging red lanterns and anything that is associated with the festival will be colored red.

Flowers such as narcissus and peony, fruits such as oranges, Chinese mythological beast such as dragon, are examples of symbols that has special meaning for the Chinese New Year. These items will be prominently displayed in the homes and offices throughout the celebration period.

Houses will be cleaned on New Year's eve as it is believed that sweeping and cleaning the house on the first day of the New Year will be like sweeping away luck, fortune and prosperity!

First day taboo also includes the non usage of sharp objects like knives. Foul languages and scolding are not to be uttered. If there's death in your family, then you are not allowed to go visiting as you will bring bad luck to your host.

2014: Year of the Wooden Horse

Horses were everywhere in shopping centers & in hotels in 2014, as it was the Year of the Horse
Horses were everywhere in shopping centers & in hotels in 2014, as it was the Year of the Horse | Source

Chinese New Year Celebration in Malaysia

Malaysia is a multi racial country and Chinese make up about 30% of the country's population. Just as Diwali celebration, Chinese New Year is declared a public holiday for the whole country, but unlike Diwali, it is a two day public holiday.

The streets in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur become abnormally quiet. Not only will the Chinese will be driving back to their hometown for the family reunion, but the other races will take advantage of this long holiday to go on leave. As a result, highway gets congested and every year, there will be road accidents!

Construction sites and businesses run by the Chinese will normally close during this period and some may be open only after the fifth day.

Food for the Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner
Food for the Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner | Source

Eve of Chinese New Year

On the eve of Chinese New Year, families will get together for the reunion dinners. This is a very important part of the celebration and it is expected that all are to attend this dinner. Most families will have this dinner at home, but some may opt to have the dinner in restaurants. Traditionally, married couples will have this reunion dinner with the husband's family.

Visiting Relatives and Friends

This is the time of the year where youngsters and the unmarried, will be given ang pow, which is a red packet with money inside. So visiting relatives and friends are not just to renew their friendship and bonds, but to the youngster, to also collect their ang pows!

Open House

Malaysia is a multi ethnic and multi cultural country. During all the major celebrations like Diwali, Eid Fitri and Chinese New Year, people will take the opportunity to celebrate the festivals with the other races, by having an 'open house'.

This open house concept is also being practiced by the business communities as a form of networking and to say thank you to their stakeholders. Malaysian Embassies all over the world will also have this open house, to bring Malaysians together.

Chinese New Year cookies: From top left clockwise: peanut cookies, kueh bahulu, kueh bangkit, tart nenas,  nian kueh & spicy mini shrimp rolls.
Chinese New Year cookies: From top left clockwise: peanut cookies, kueh bahulu, kueh bangkit, tart nenas, nian kueh & spicy mini shrimp rolls.

Chinese New Year traditional cakes and cookies

The many varieties of Chinese cakes and cookies for the New Year used to be home baked with preparation and cooking, starting as early as one month before the new year. Nowadays, most of the wives are working and it is more convenient to buy from several sellers who are known for certain delicacies. However, there still others who will make their own cakes and cookies.

Among the favorites are kueh kapit (love letters), Kueh bangkit, kueh bahulu, spicy mini shrimp rolls.and kueh tart nenas (pineapple tarts), which are also common cookies, during the festivals of other races in Malaysia. Unique to the Chinese New Year celebration are peanut biscuits, and of course, nian kueh.

In additions, oranges, dried melon seeds and peanuts will also be served to friends and relatives that come visiting.

Busy shopping for Chinese New Year items
Busy shopping for Chinese New Year items | Source

The 15th Night, known as Lantern Festival or Chap Goh Meh

Lantern Festival or Chap Goh Meh will be celebrated just as grand as the first day of the New Year. Houses will be decorated with lanterns and lights; and prayers, seeking blessings, will be made at most temples.

In the state of Penang, Chap Goh Meh is celebrated in a big way. Highlights of this festival is when single women and girls, including tourists; throw oranges into the sea, hoping to get good husbands!

Some of these women may even write their contact numbers as well as Facebook account, on the fruits. You will expect to see guys busy scouring the sea for these oranges!

Chap Goh Meh is sometimes referred to as the Chinese equivalent of Valentine's Day.

Lion Dance

Lion dance is performed during the Chinese New Year celebration in many Malaysian Chinese homes, offices and shops, as it is believed to welcome good fortune and ward off evil influences.

The dance is a combination of a high degree of agility, strength, stamina and elegance. In order to maintain perfect form, the lion dancers are required to undergo extensive trainings not just on the complicated lion dancing steps, but also in acrobatic and martial arts.

Getting lion dancers to perform at homes and offices are auspicious during Chinese New Year to bring luck and prosperity
Getting lion dancers to perform at homes and offices are auspicious during Chinese New Year to bring luck and prosperity | Source
Chingay procession held during Chinese New Year celebration in Penang
Chingay procession held during Chinese New Year celebration in Penang | Source

Chingay

In the state of Penang, the government will hold a Chinese New Year celebration on the streets, with delicious food available to the visitors. Lion Dance, Dragon Dance as well as Chingay will also be performed.

Chingay, which progresses from what used to be a solo flag balancing performance to a team performance, consist of more than 15 team members. In Malaysia, Chingay is now performed not only by the Chinese, but also by other races as well.

Dragon Dance

Dragon dance is performed by team members which could be more than 20, carrying the dragon that measures more than 100 feet. The dance movement mimics that of a dragon.

Be part of Chinese New Year Celebration in Malaysia

The combination of foods, chingay, lion and dragon dances make the celebration a memorable event of the year. So make a point of coming over to Malaysia, to be part of Chinese New Year Celebration in Malaysia.

Dragon Dance is also another favorite during Chinese New Year Celebration
Dragon Dance is also another favorite during Chinese New Year Celebration | Source

Lion Dance

Lion Dance Went Wrong

© 2012 Mazlan

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Comments 4 comments

greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 4 years ago from Malaysia Author

mizjo, glad you enjoyed this article. I also read your Chinese New Year trip back to Malaysia with the whole clan. That was an awesome article.


mizjo profile image

mizjo 4 years ago from New York City, NY

Hi, greatstuff, I just happened on your blog a few minutes ago. It's really well written and interesting. I love the images you have uploaded too, especially the lion dances.

I brought my children to Malaysia to celebrate CNY in 2009. It was a trip that will always be dear to our hearts, and I was very happy to find someone else has written about our wonderful tradition. Thanks for sharing .


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 4 years ago from Malaysia Author

When I was in Saint Louis last December, I found them in the Chinese International Market. You may want to check them at your place.


jojokaya profile image

jojokaya 4 years ago from USA

I miss Nian Gao and pineapple tart...the best Chinese New Year food. Rated up ..interesting hub

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