Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Chinese New Year Tradition

Today is the 10th day of Chinese New Year. Just a day passed from 9th day of Chinese New Year, which is a day for Chinese to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven 天公(Tien Kong) in the Taoist Pantheon. The ninth day is traditionally the birthday of the Jade Emperor. This day is especially important to Hokkiens. Come midnight of the eighth day of the new year, Hokkiens will offer thanks giving prayers to the Emperor of Heaven. Offerings will include sugarcane as it was the sugarcane that had protected the Hokkiens from certain extermination generations ago.

On top of  this, in this post I would like to share with you more on Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year is celebrated in almost every corner of the world by Chinese people every year and I would like to take this opportunity in this festive season to share with you my Chinese New Year Tradition.

First of all, for those who are not familiar with this festival, here's a brief introduction on
Chinese New Year : )

According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian (nián). Nian would come on the first day of New Year to devour livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One time, people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the colour red. Hence, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, Nian never came to the village again. The Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. The Nian became Hongjun Laozu's mount.

Chinese New Year
Often called Chinese Lunar New Year – is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is an all East and Southeast Asia celebration. In China it is known as "Spring Festival", the literal translation of the Chinese name 春节 (Chūn Jié), owing to the difference between Western and traditional Chinese methods for computing the seasons. It marks the end of the winter season, analogous to the Western carnival.

The festival begins on the first day of the first month 正月(Zhēng Yuè) in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with Lantern Festival which is also the Chinese Valentine's Day on the 15th day.

Chinese New Year's Eve, a day where Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner, is known as 除夕(Chú Xī ) or "Eve of the Passing Year."

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar.
Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors, as well as cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction. These include Koreans (Seollal), Tibetans and Bhutanese (Losar), Mongolians (Tsagaan Sar), Vietnamese (Tết), and the Japanese before 1873 (Oshogatsu).
In countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, although Chinese New Year is not an official holiday, many ethnic Chinese hold large celebrations and Australia Post, Canada Post, and the US Postal Service issue New Year's themed stamps.

Regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also the tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.

Now here's my Chinese New Year Tradition : )

Ethic               : Hokkien
Origin             : Fujian Jinjiang (福建晋江) - located in the southeastern part of
                         Fujian province, China.
Place of Birth : Penang, Malaysia. (Some said it is the biggest Chinatown in the world.)


Before the eve of Chinese New Year, Every Chinese MUST travel back home to reunited with their family. Even you are in Planet Mars, you have to come back home. That's why every year the world will witness the biggest migration in human history in China before Chinese New Year. Those who work in other places will travel back, so am I : )
My hometown is in Raja Uda, the biggest Chinatown in Butterworth, Penang.

 *Night view on streets of Raja Uda. Look at the whole stretch of lanterns!!

After back to hometown, now is preparation for Chinese New Year.


*My sister is getting her new hair cut : )

In Chinese New Year, everything has to be new, from head to toe.

*My turn : )

...and then food...Food plays a big part in Chinese culture because the Chinese believe to have a good meal is as important as God in Heaven. there's a Chinese proverb which says 民以食为天 (ming yi shi wei tian) that explains it very well.

*My Mum and sister are enjoying their meal : )

*Mahjong time! 

Mahjong is the most popular game among Chinese.
In Ancient days it is a game that played by concubines in the palace to pass time and now it become a popular game among normal citizens.

*Shuffle before you start the game : )

*Playing with my mum and my neighbour. 

Traditional Mahjong you need 4 person to play. But in Malaysia 3 person Mahjong is played by most people now because it is faster and less complicated.

*Thinking how to play because my mum is a experienced player. : P

*Eat again.. (big part of chinese culture) supper time!

Mamak or Indian Muslim food "nasi kandar" in Penang are one of the popular choice of food for Chinese  especially for supper.

*Next morning, early morning....
eat again! 

The reason why food is important for Chinese is in Ancient China, food are precious and sometimes even consider a luxury because of climate, natural disaster and wars.

*We are having 'tim sum', Cantonese delicacies.

*My mum, a perfect portrait of  "a good meal is as important as God in Heaven" 

*All the food on the table must be finished!!

Its part of my family culture because if we can afford a meal we must finished it to remind ourselves that our ancestors go through hardship and hunger so that we are having abundance of food today.

Buying goods for Chinese New Year.

*Mandarin Orange is a must.

"Ba Kua"
- barbecued pork slices.

Pineapples for prayers.

*Pineapple in Chinese is also means prosperity.

Flowers for prayers too.

Joss sticks, joss papers and praying paraphernalia.

*And then of course.... eat again!

During Chinese New Year season all the food prices will go up. It could even be double the normal price.

Penang famous delicacies
- Char Koay Teow.

Famous Fried Bee Hoon in Raja Uda.

*Auntie serve it to me by herself, how can I say no??

*After meal... Bought some fire crackers to have some fun during Chinese New Year.

*Midnight...Mahjong again!!

With secondary school friend.

 *Revolution in Mahjong game!! We are using dices in Iphone4!!!

Traveling to Penang Island. My place of birth.

*Eat again...Specialty in Penang, 'Rojak'.

Rojak is mixture of variety of fruits together with cuttle fish and crispy 'yau char kuai' served with a special type of sauce.

*This is how Penang Rojak looks like.

*Any food Advertiser looking for Ambassador? I think my mum is a good candidate : P

Siamese Buddhist Temple.

Pay a 'visit' to our elders.

People getting blessing from Monks.
Back Home. Visit another Temple. *Tow Boo Kong Temple in Raja Uda.

*May I have the strength & all the blessing in 2011

Night market around the temple.

Chinese New Year Clothes.

For House Decoration on Chinese New Year.

*My old friends are selling socks for Chinese New Year. Good Business!!

Chinese New Year Cookies.
To give out as gifts or to serve relatives and friends when they visit us.


Chinese New Year Eve

Reunion Dinner.

Reunion Dinner is very very important in Chinese tradition. This is the time when all the family members gather together and have a good meal. My point of view is this tradition is important to bring peace and prosperity to the family hence tightens the family relationship and a remembrance of your own root.

*wearing red! Its a lucky colour for Chinese.

*Ok stop taking photos and start eating my boy.


Chinese New Year!!!!!

1st day of Chinese New Year! Everything must be new! All of us are wearing new clothes ; )

Receiving wishes and 'ang pau' (red packet with money inside) from parents.

Visiting relatives and receiving ang pau.

Visiting during Chinese New Year is according to family hierarchy. The younger visit the elder. Never the opposite.

*Back to Grandmother's house for family reunion.

*All the family members from Australia, Singapore, from outstation are back.

*Welcoming the youngest family member!!

*My niece is celebrating her 1st Chinese New Year : )

*Family photo is a must : )

*Many ang pau !

Only those who are still single are eligible to get a ang pau. Once you are married you will stop receiving ang pau and start giving back ang pau to the younger generation.

What else?

Of course continue to....


In my neighbour's house.

Its a good way to communicate with each other, and strengthen relationships.

*eat again : )

*Besides Mahjong, Card games!

Poker! Friends get together with a couple of beers, chit chating about old times and play a few hands : )

*My sister's gang. She is the 'chong' means dealer.

I think all these is just a good excuse to gather friends and families together. Don't you think so ?


*Lastly here I would like to wish everyone to have a great year in 2011. A Healthy, Prosperous and Abundant year for you :)

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