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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Gong Xi Fa Cai 2016

 1. Spring cleaning 
 2. Bake cookies 
 3. Shop for new clothes 
 4. Ang Pows 
 5. Stock freezer with large prawns 
 6. Stock up on mandarin oranges 

With only a day more to the Chinese Lunar Year, I am quite done with most of the preparations. I really should have a longer list but being Malaysian and Catholic, I do away with many of the practices especially the taboos observed and the non-Christian rituals of the festival.

While spring cleaning is done to get rid off all the bad luck gathered in the previous year, I do it because it's a good reason to get Hubby and the boys to clean the house from top to bottom once a year. I think that's the only time Josh cleans his room!

Cookies and mandarin oranges are exchanged as gifts with family and friends throughout the 15 days of the Chinese Lunar Year, kinda like gifting during Christmas. Who doesn't love cookies or mandarin oranges?!!!  Besides, these oranges do not grow in Malaysia and we get to enjoy the fruit only when they are available, that is, once a year during the Chinese Lunar Year. Mandarin oranges are homophonous with "gold" and are an auspicious symbol.

New clothing symbolizes a new start to the year. l can still recall the difficulty of falling asleep on the eve of the Chinese new year with our neatly folded new clothes that Mom would place at the foot of our beds when we were little.  We were so full of anticipation and excitement for the following big day, eager to parade around in our new cloths when we received our ang pows. I am the second child in a family of three girls and save for special occasions, my clothes were mostly hand-me-downs from my elder sister and cousins so you can imagine what this meant to me.

As a kid, receiving "Ang Pow" was the highlight of the Chinese Lunar Year for me!  It's the one thing that all Malaysians, regardless of race and creed, associate the Chinese New Year with beyond mandarin oranges! "Ang Pow" are those little red envelopes containing money handed out  as Chinese New Year gifts. Folding and slipping crisp new RM$5 and RM10 bills into red envelopes is a pleasure that's hard to describe. I guess there is as much joy in giving as in receiving. The wide smile on the recipient's face is priceless! It is a small yet  thoughtful gesture of thanks and gratitude to the people you encounter daily - the friendly janitor, the helpful security guard, the patient check-out girl in your neighbourhood grocer, the mailman, etc.

And if you are wondering about item #5, that's because large prawns always skyrock to a ridiculous price about 2 weeks before the Chinese Lunar Year due to the spike in demand as people rush to stock up on the essential item for the dinner table during the festivities. You would probably ask, "Why prawns?"  That's because prawn, "HA" in Cantonese, is a homophonic pun for laughter.
Ha! Ha! Prawn suppliers must be laughing their way to the bank!

I will be on a blogging break for the Chinese Lunar Year so until then........



Chinese Lunar Year Cookies
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


  1. Such cute cookies :) Enjoyed reading the customs you listed here :) Happy New Year :) My grandson will probably be born in the year of the monkey (due 2/16, but you know babies :)



  2. How very interesting.. thanks for sharing. Love learning all these cool traditions.

  3. Happy New Year, Veronica lee! May your Ang pows be plenty!

  4. I have so much to spring clean as well.

    I love the flowers on those cookies!

  5. I'd never heard of Ang Pow but what an awesome tradition! Enjoy your Chinese Lunar Year!

  6. Such cute cookies! I love your posts, I always learn something new! :) #KCACOLS

  7. These are great! Would love to have you share on the "What's for Dinner" link party -

  8. Your posts are always so interesting! I've never heard of Ang Pow before.
    Happy New Year!
    Laura xx

  9. Happy New Year! Those cookies look amazing! #KCACOLS

  10. Happy New Year lovely!!! It is always so interesting to learn to learn more about your culture. How nice sounds the Ang Pow. I bet this was really exciting! Thanks so much for sharing this lovely post at #KCACOLS. I would love to see you again on Sunday! :-) x