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Malaysian Chinese Traditional Festival


农历新年 Lunar New Year


The Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as “Spring Festival”, means to welcome the Spring Festival of the New Year, one of the four traditional Chinese festivals. This festival is also an important family reunion festival in the life of the Chinese community.

Chinese New Year is also the most solemn traditional festival for Chinese. Therefore, Chinese New Year has many customs and types. At the same time, because the Chinese live in all corners of the world and spread all over the world, they are influenced by the environment and culture, and traditional customs will evolve due to the local regional colors, forming a unique regional custom.


(1) Chinese New Year’s custom of “eating”:

eating rice cakes, dumplings, glutinous rice cakes, glutinous rice balls, poached eggs, big meatballs, whole fish, fine wine, oranges, apples, peanuts, melon seeds, sweets, tea and delicacies;

(2) Chinese New Year “preparation” customs:

dusting, washing bedding, preparing New Year goods, pasting Spring Festival couplets, pasting New Year pictures (door god Zhongkui), pasting paper-cuts, pasting window grilles, pasting blessing characters;

(3) Chinese New Year “New Year” customs:

light candles, light fires, set off firecrackers, watch the New Year, give New Year’s money, pay New Year’s greetings, walk to relatives, give new year gifts, go to the ancestor’s grave, visit the flower market, make fire in the community, dance Zhong Kui and many other activities , The ultimate family happiness.


For thousands of years, people have made New Year celebrations extremely colorful. Every year, from the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month to the 30th day of the New Year, the folks call this time “Spring Day” or “Dust Sweeping Day”. Sweeping the dust before the Spring Festival is a traditional Chinese custom.

Then every family prepares the New Year’s goods. About 10 days before the festival, people are busy purchasing items. The New Year’s goods include chicken, duck and fish meat, tea wine sauce, north and south roasted seeds and nuts, and sugar bait fruits. For the gifts given when visiting friends, children should buy new clothes and hats, and prepare to wear them during the New Year.

Before the festival, the New Year’s message in yellow and red paper should be pasted on the door of the residence, that is, the Spring Festival couplets written in red paper. Brightly colored New Year pictures with auspicious meanings are posted in the room. The ingenious girls cut out beautiful window grilles and put them on the windows. In front of the door hang big red lanterns or paste the characters fortune and the god of wealth and door gods (Zhong Kui, Qin Qiong, Jingde), etc. Words can also be posted upside down, passers-by are blessed, that is, blessing has arrived, all these activities are to add enough festive atmosphere to the festival.

The enthusiasm during the New Year is not only permeated in every house, but also in the streets and alleys of various places. In some local markets, there are customs such as exorcism dancing bells, lion dancing, dragon lanterns, performing social fires, visiting the flower market, and visiting temple fairs.

During this period, the lanterns filled the city and the streets filled with tourists. The excitement was unprecedented. It was not until the fifteenth day of the first lunar month and the Lantern Festival before the Spring Festival really ended.

清明节 Ching Ming Festival


Ching Ming Festival is a festival that Malaysian Chinese attach great importance to. When the Qingming Festival approaches, people will sacrifice in different ways to remember the deceased ancestors. Everyone knows that the Ching Ming Festival is an important traditional festival for the Chinese, but many people are completely unclear about the origin of the Ching Ming Festival. Chinese people all over the world also spend the Ching Ming Festival in different ways. Today, let us take a look at where the Ching Ming Festival comes from, and how Chinese people all over the world celebrate the Ching Ming Festival.

Ching Ming Festival is one of China’s “four major festivals”: Spring Festival, Ching Ming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. It can be seen that the importance of this festival in the minds of the Chinese is extremely high. Ching Ming Festival is also known as “Outing Qing Festival”, “Xingqing Festival” and “March Festival”. According to calculations based on the moon’s rotation, Qingming Festival usually falls on April 5th each year, around the first day of the third month of the lunar calendar. It is also the fifth of China’s 24 festivals or the 108th day after the winter solstice. In 1935, the government of the Republic of China set Qingming Festival on April 5th each year and designated it as a national holiday. On May 20, 2006, Qingming Festival was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.

Ching Ming Festival falls on the fifteenth day after the vernal equinox, which is also the fourth or fifth day of the kilometer. People will go to the cemetery to visit the tombs of their ancestors, pray for their deceased relatives, and offer various sacrifices to them. It is said that by burning a Qingming sacrifice in the cemetery, the deceased relative can obtain and use these things in another world.

Many people burn incense sticks, gold bars or paper money made from incense paper, clothes, food, and various paper crafts. As we all know, the younger generation sometimes even provides tablets, mobile phones, electronic products, skin care products and other health supplements.

端午节 Dragon Boat Festival

There are many sayings about the representatives of the Dragon Boat Festival, including Qu Yuan, Jie Zitui, Wu Zixu, Cao E, etc. Let’s take a look.

To commemorate Qu Yuan-this is the most popular saying. According to legend, after Qu Yuan committed suicide by throwing himself into the Miluo River, people rowed a boat on the river and threw the wrapped glutinous rice ball into the river to attract him to prevent his body from being eaten by fish in the river. Yu’er’s gaze. So this kind of activity has been preserved and passed down to this day.

To commemorate Jie Zitui-The saying that Jie Zitui commemorates the Spring and Autumn Period during the Dragon Boat Festival first appeared in Cai Yong’s piano work “Qin Cao” in the Eastern Han Dynasty.

Commemorating Wu Zixu-During the Warring States Period, when Wu and Yue were fighting, Wu Zixu had repeatedly advised the king of Wu Fucha, but the husband refused to listen. Fucha listened to the slander of the people around him, thinking that Wu Zixu secretly wanted to unite with Qi to fight against Wu, so he sent someone to send a sword to Wu Zixu, causing him to commit suicide. Before Wu Zixu committed suicide, he said to the doorman: “Please gouge out my eyes and place them on the east gate. I want to watch the kingdom of Wu perish.” Wu Wang Fucha was angry. On the fifth day of May, he ordered Wu Zixu’s body to be abandoned in the Qiantang River , Wu people pityed him, set up a temple for Wu Zixu on the river, named Xushan.

In memory of Cao E-Cao E in the Eastern Han Dynasty was a famous filial daughter in ancient China. Also on the fifth day of May of the second year of Han’an, Cao E’s father, Cao Xu, fell into the water and died during a sacrificial ceremony to welcome the “Wu Jun”. Fourteen-year-old Cao E searched for his father’s body along the river and did not find him for 17 days. Throwing to the river to die, five days later, holding his father’s body surfaced.

Celestial Phenomenon-There is a saying that the Dragon Boat Festival is derived from the celestial phenomenon worship and evolved from the dragon totem sacrificial offering in ancient times. In the Midsummer Dragon Boat Festival, the Canglong Qisu soars to the south of the sky, which is the day when the dragon flies to the sky. For example, the line in the “I Ching·Qian Gua” says: “Flying dragon is in the sky”, which is a symbol of auspiciousness. Therefore, the Dragon Boat Festival is considered to be a day when the Yang Qi is very strong, and unknown things will disappear.

The dragon boat race we see today was the earliest form of sacrificial activity used by the Wuyue tribe in Jiangsu and Zhejiang to worship the dragon ancestor. The locals often draw dragon graphics on the bow and tail of the ship as a totem or protector of their tribe.

Despite various claims, the Chinese in Malaysia still do not forget this traditional festival that has been passed down from their ancestors. The Dragon Boat Festival will be spent in various ways such as rice dumplings, dragon boat racing, ancestor worship and so on.

from “Malaysia Chinese Museum

七夕节 Qixi Festival


The Qixi Festival, also known as Qiqiao Festival, Qiqiao Festival or Seven Sister’s Birthday, originated in China and is a traditional festival of Chinese regions and East Asian countries. It comes from the legend of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl and is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.
This festival is an important representative of Chinese festival culture and an important link in the annual festival cycle chain. Only with it can the festival culture be rich and colorful. If it is lost, the integrity of the festival culture will be lost, so it will not be forgotten by people. . In recent years, the Qixi Festival has been hailed as the “Eastern Valentine’s Day”, and its significance has become more and more important.
The formation of the Qixi Festival is related to the folk story of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl. Its earliest origin may be in the Spring and Autumn Period. Tanabata at that time was a sacrifice to Altair and Vega. After the Han Dynasty, it began to be associated with the story of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, and it officially became a festival for women.
Because ancient women wanted to follow the example of the Weaver Girl. Therefore, on the birthday of the Seventh Sister, they would offer sacrifices to the Seventh Sister, praying for a happy marriage and ingenuity, called “Qiao Qiao”. During the Song and Yuan Dynasties, the Qixi Qiqiao Festival became very grand, and there was a market specializing in selling Qiqiao accessories, called Qiqiao City.

The deity Jade Emperor (Ming Dynasty, 16th century; anonymous)

Highlights of the 15 Days of Chinese New Year


Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, falls on 10 February 2024. It is the most important among Chinese festivals and has a rich history spanning 3,800 years.

It is celebrated by about 2 billion people worldwide, 1.4 billion of them in China and the rest in the Chinese diaspora in Asia and the rest of the world. In terms of numbers, it ranks with Christmas which is also celebrated by about 2 billion people across the world.

It also involves the world’s largest migration of people: in 2023, approximately 226 million passengers travelled home in China to celebrate with their families. And Xinhua news agency predicts increased numbers across the board for 2024.

Typically, businesses will close for 15 days, and families gather for reunion dinners. But prior to the big day, spring cleaning is held to sweep away bad luck and families also practise shou ye (守夜: watching the night) where children will stay up for the night to usher in longevity for their parents and elders.

Interesting facts about the most important of the 15 days of Chinese New Year.

First Day (初一)

  • Wear new clothes and shoes to signify a new beginning
  • Offer tea to parents with new year wishes (for children staying with parents)
  • For married couples staying outside, the first visit is to the parents to offer tea and new year greetings, and subsequently visits to elders of husband’s side
  • Offerings are also made to gods and ancestral tablets at home
  • Visits to temples to pay respect to the deities
  • Fire crackers, dragon and lion dances to chase away the monster Nian (hence guo nian has a dual meaning: to celebrate the new year and to overcome the mythical monster Nian)
  • No sweeping or cleaning of the premises or taking out the garbage as this would take away luck and fortune
  • No washing of hair or clothes as it removes good fortune
  • Other taboos to avoid on this day: parents refrain from scolding or punishing children as the resultant crying signifies sorrow and bad luck; unless in an emergency, visiting the doctor is a bad start to the year; breaking crockery is a bad omen which should quickly be countered by reciting the words Luodikaihua fuguironghua (落地开花, 富贵荣华(Fall flowering riches and glory); avoid negative topics during conversations; focus on visiting, feasting and enjoyment on this day, avoid hard work as it portends a hard life for the rest of the year.
  • Some families may partake of a vegetarian lunch.

Second Day (初二)

  • Visiting parents and elders of the wife’s side of the family
  • Also called kai nian, the beginning of the year: shops, businessmen and even families will offer sacrifices to the God of Fortune they welcomed on the Chinese New Year’s Eve
  • The birthday of dogs, so dogs are given a treat.

Third Day (初三)

  • Visits to relatives and family friends (bai nian) begin on the third day and last till the fifteenth day
  • To mark the legend that rats get married on this day, rice is left around as gifts so rats will not bother the family during the year.

Fourth Day (初四)

  • To honour the Kitchen God who would return to Heaven to report on the family to the Jade Emperor, nian gao (new year sticky cake) is offered to the Kitchen God whose speech is rendered difficult by the stickiness of the cake or who speaks sweet nothings about the family
  • Taoists typically offer food and wine to the deities as well.

Fifth Day (初五)

  • The Fortune God is honoured for good fortune
  • It is also the day of “breaking the fifth” or 破五 when taboos of the first four days can be broken. Cleaning and sweeping activities resume.
  • Businesses resume after the holidays.

Sixth Day (初六)

  • Lucky day for those who turn 12 this year
  • More businesses and restaurants resume business.

Seventh Day (初七; 人日 Renri)

  • Renri or Human Day is considered to be the birthday of all human beings
  • Renri is actually a festival on its own, but is now celebrated as part of Chinese New Year. Hence the foods might overlap: noodles represent longevity and raw fish to represent success
  • According to mythology, the goddess Nuwa after creating the world, created the animals and humans on these days of the first month (zhengyue) of the new year:

First day: Chickens

Second day: Dogs

Third day: Pigs

Fourth day: Sheep

Fifth day: Cows

Sixth day: Horses

Seventh day: Mankind

  • People avoid killing the animals on their respective birthdays and punishing prisoners on Renri
  • Foods are prepared like the seven vegetable soup (七菜羹), seven vegetable congee (七菜粥) and jidi congee (及第粥). Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese use the seven-coloured raw fish (七彩魚生) instead of the seven vegetable soup.

Eighth Day (初八)

  • Leftovers from Chinese New Year should all be consumed on this day
  • Some release pets into the wild to respect nature.
  • For Hokkien people, this day is significant as they make preparations for the birthday of the Jade Emperor (玉皇Yu Huang)
  • The Jade Emperor is the celestial being that represents supreme power and authority in Chinese culture, religion and mythology
  • The Jade Emperor is also known by other names, including the Great Emperor of Jade (玉皇上帝Yu Huang Shangdi or 玉皇大帝Yu Huang Dadi), and Heavenly Grandfather (Tiangong天公)
  • Preparations to worship Tiangong (崇拜天宫 chongbai tiangong or pai ti kong in Hokkien) involve the whole family fasting, bathing and then gathering in the main hall before a table on which is placed the Eight Immortals and a magic lamp with an altar erected.

Ninth Day (初九)

  • Hokkien people celebrate this day as more important than the first day of Chinese New Year as they worship Tiangong to commemorate their experience in the 16th century when they escaped marauding pirates in Fujian province and hid in the sugarcane field and prayed to the Jade Emperor who protected them for nine days
  • This deliverance from danger happened on the 9th day of Chinese New Year which was also the birthday of the Jade Emperor; since then they have made offerings to the Jade Emperor on the 9th day of the first lunar month
  • Since sugarcane saved them from danger, a pair of sugarcane stalks are tied on each side of the offering table or over the main doorway with joss paper (kim chua in Hokkien) tied to the top of the stalks.

Tenth Day (初十)

  • No moving of any stone allowed as it is the birthday of the god of stone

Eleventh Day (初十一)

  • Sons-in-law are invited to their in-laws’ home
  • In some places, the Dragon Dance is performed, usually accompanied by firecrackers.

Twelfth Day (初十二)

  • Preparations for the Lantern Festival begin.

Thirteenth Day (初十三)

  • On this day, it is a custom to place lights by the kitchen stove to symbolise lighting up to start the Lantern Festival.
  • Some may opt for a day of vegetarian food.

Fourteenth Day (初十四)

  • Families buy lanterns in preparation for the Lantern Festival.

Fifteenth Day Chap Goh Mei (初十五, 元宵节 Yuan Xiao Jie)

  • The last day of the Lunar New Year is also known as Chap Goh Mei in Hokkien (literally 15th night) or Lantern Festival (Yuan Xiao Jie), celebrated by lighting lanterns to mark the appearance of the first full moon of the year
  • It is also the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day. Single ladies will write their names and contact details on oranges and toss them into the river hoping that a man would scoop them up and contact them
  • Another custom is to guess lantern riddles. Riddles will be written on lanterns with people surrounding the riddles, pulling the note off if they have the right answer
  • A typical dish is also tang yuan, eaten with family to symbolise family unity and harmony.