Ahh, it’s that time of year again. It’s the time where you’ll see public places, houses and the streets adorned with everything red, you’ll start to get a bit dizzy from all that red heat. It’s the time where the malls are packed to the brim with Chinese families doing their last minute shopping and Asian parents yelling at their kids everywhere to stop running around. It’s the time to start going on a major shopping spree and when your mom scolds you once again for buying way too many clothes, you can always counter her with, “But Mom! It’s Chinese New Year!” Does that happen to you, too? No? Okay, just me then.
While I can’t say that Chinese New Year has that magical feel like Christmas does, I undoubtedly, absolutely love Chinese New Year! It has always been my favourite festive season and I look forward to the following year’s as soon as the current one ends. I like Christmas too, but I don’t get excited about it much. Maybe it’s because of the sheer fact that Christmas in Malaysia is plainly commercialized and my family don’t really make a big deal out of it anyway. But when it comes to Chinese New Year, it feels different because you can see that everybody is all festive and happy and Chinese New Year-ry.
Though, as much as I enjoy this occasion, there are a few aspects about it that I can certainly live without. I apologize for being a killjoy, but I’m sure you can agree with me on at least one point, no?
1. The songs
If you think Chinese New Year songs are so annoying to the point that you’d rather listen to Baa Baa Black Sheep on repeat, you are not alone and you don’t have to feel guilty about having such thoughts, dear friend. While Christmas songs make you feel all warm and mushy and cuddly, Chinese New Year songs do the exact opposite. I don’t know about you but all the “dong dong chiang” makes me want to throw firecrackers at the stereo or wherever the music is coming from, really.
2. Everything is so loud
Speaking of firecrackers, I am not a fan of them. Other than the blatant fact that it’s deafeningly loud and explosive, the smoke and mess it makes are not really a positive factor either. When it’s over and you can finally hear the quietness again, you wonder if that is what noise pollution sounds like. Also, has it ever occurred to you that everything is amplified during Chinese New Year? The sounds, the colours, the people and just the general vibe to it. It’s like, whoa, tone it down, guys.
3. The heat
My friend, X, recently coined a new term that really speaks a lot for the Chinese race. Our non-Chinese friend who’s currently studying in the UK asked how the weather is in Malaysia and X replied, “Very hot. Chinese New Year weather.” Being non-Chinese, he was like, “Someone please explain to me what the heck a Chinese New Year weather is.” And the rest of us Chinese were like, “No need for an explanation. We get you, sista.” After all, if you’re Malaysian, “Chinese New Year weather” is pretty much self-explanatory.
But of course it’s not all doom and gloom in Chinatown. Next, let’s talk about some of my favourite parts about this festive season!
1. New clothes
Maybe this is just me but I really enjoy seeing how well-dressed and amazing everybody looks during Chinese New Year, especially on the auspicious first day. People get out of bed extra early to dress up and put in more effort than usual to look good and impress their relatives they haven’t seen in a while. Not to forget, our Instagram timeline will be bombarded with #CNY #OOTDs and as someone who really likes clothes, it’s just such a nice and happy sight for me.
2. The food
Need I say more? Chinese New Year cookies! Soft drinks! Packet drinks! Yee sang! Mandarin oranges! Bak kua! Catering food when there’s an open house! My personal favourites are the chicken floss rolls, almond cookies and caterpillar cookies. What are yours? That is, if you have one cause you know, if you like everything, I totally understand.
Dear whoever who came up with the tradition of giving and receiving money packets during Chinese New Year, I really, really love you and I hope you’re having a ball of a time in Heaven. Sincerely, college student who’s always broke.
They say that nothing is free in this world and you can’t expect to earn money from doing nothing. Well yeah, you can. During Chinese New Year, at least.
4. Reunion dinner and visiting
I see my immediate family quite often so our reunion dinner is always a simple affair because uh, I just saw you yesterday, cousin. However, when it comes to my extended family, Chinese New Year is that one time in the year where the whole clan gets together. And by whole clan, I really mean whole clan. I almost always discover someone new I didn’t know I’m related to at these gatherings. It’s always nice to catch up with my cousins and just talk, drink, eat and be merry. Wait, wrong occasion, sorry, but you get my point.
On behalf of ROJAK, here’s to wishing all of our Chinese readers Gong Xi Fa Cai! Go enjoy and wear red and eat as much as you can. You can feel guilty when it’s all over but now is not the time for such negativity in your life. And for the non-Chinese, happy holidays and don’t forget to visit your Chinese friends for free food and better yet, free money!