After living in Penang for a year and making some good friends from the Penang Chinese community, I like to mark the Chinese New Year, perhaps more than the Gregorian calendar one. I have fond memories of Chinese New Year 2017 as it was full of tradition. I was happy to be able to mark this New year with a visit to the theatre to see a Chinese dance troupe, though it was not quite as I expected (more about that in a subsequent post)…
To me New Year’s Eve post 1999 is a bit of a letdown, and super expensive. It seems to be a night to drink, pay extortionate entry fees, taxis and babysitters. I do not bother with NYE here really. In Penang, marking Chinese New year was refreshingly different.
In Penang, Malaysia:
There were oranges, red envelopes, performances and displays. It was amazing to be part of this. here is a display from a shopping centre called ‘Gurney Plaza’
We were lucky enough to have Chinese friends in Penang and a a result my daughter and I were invited to some celebrations.
I have to say I was delighted at first to be invited to fireworks.
However, after they started shooting along the road where we were standing by our flats and one being put on a traffic cone for extra lift, I was a bit of a nervous wreck!
What I like about CNY:
The sense of community and friendship. I also love the fact you get to feel like you have some control over what is coming. If you hang a banner over your front door, for example, it can bring you prosperity, good health, whatever you ask for. We have done that this year. I’ll let you know how it goes!
In many shops there are boxes of oranges. Why? As the word for orange is like the word for ‘abundance’. Also, as oranges are kind of like gold in colour- think melted gold bars. You can buy for your friends wishing them a propserous new year.
Red is a lucky colour and relatives and friends give money to children in the special red envelopes. 压岁钱 (yā suì qián). This was my daughter’s first introduction (aged 3) to money: I explained how much it was and what sort of things she could (and couldn’t) get in the toy shop.
There are whole books written on how each Chinese horoscope sign can manage things in their life to improve things and prevent bad luck. I must say I bought one but got confused at some of the things I could do/ buy, but who knows how my year might have turned out had I followed the advice?
Happy New Year!
新年快乐 xīn nián kuài lè