Chinese New Year Traditions

Jan 19, 2012 in , , ,

During this time of the year, people go home to be with their family and celebrate the New Year. There are performances everywhere in the country – in the streets, malls, hotels and restaurants – featuring live bands playing traditional music in addition to the famous lion dance, also known as the dragon dance.

If you’re going to be in Kuala Lumpur this festive season, the place to shop for the New Year is Petaling Street, also known as Chinatown. It’s a treasure trove of fashion, decorations, food and just about everything else. Bags, shoes, clothes, flowers, sweets, and delicacies – you name it, they’ve got it.

One of the best-known traditions of the Chinese New Year is the “hong pau”, which literally means red packet. These packets are filled with money and date back to the Sung dynasty. According to legend, a young boy defeated a dragon-like creature and the villagers presented him with a red packet filled with money. Nowadays, everyone from newborns to unmarried adults are given “hong paus” by married couples to wish them prosperity in the coming year.

A lot of preparation goes into the Chinese New Year. New red clothes are a must, and a lot of food has to be prepared beforehand. There are some rules to follow on the first day, such as not to clean the house. In the days before the Chinese New Year, people clean their houses thoroughly, and all the cleaning equipment must be kept away before the New Year. It was believed that if the house is swept, then the family’s prosperity would be swept away too.

Chinese New Year has a lot to do with bringing in the new and expelling the old. Other than cleaning the house, a rule was to have all debts paid by the New Year, which is actually a practice that we should follow nowadays as well. We should finish homework, projects and other tasks before the New Year rolls around. Make sure that your New Year starts with a clean slate, and you’re set to go!