The taste of New Year, the taste of home
The taste of New Year, traditions and customs.
As the twelfth lunar month breezes by, another new year is soon to arrive.
In Malaysia, people from all walks of life celebrate the lunar new year differently. In general, it is a custom to celebrate the new year by getting rid of the old and welcoming the new, worshiping the gods and ancestors, and praying for a prosperous and bountiful year ahead.
With the Covid-19 pandemic entering its third year, people are gradually becoming accustomed to the new normal and with Chinese New Year customs and traditions being subjected to the same, some are being toned down and some are even being phased out. In the past, the eve of Chinese New Year was all about reunions, enjoying family reunion dinners, paying visits, sending well-wishes and receiving red envelopes. However, due to the uncertainties of the pandemic, we must take every step and consider the safety of our family and friends by keeping many Chinese New Year customs simple.
Despite this, some Chinese New Year customs still have to be passed down so that they do not become a footnote in history books and no longer practised.
Let’s take a look at what we need to do before we welcome the lunar new year!
Customs preceding the New Year:
23rd day of the 12th lunar month: Worshiping the Kitchen God to celebrate the little new year
On this day, people will be busy making offerings of food and desserts to the Kitchen God in the hopes that the deity will provide an auspicious report to the Jade Emperor; so that the household will prosper and thrive in the coming year.
24th day of 12th lunar month: Spring cleaning
According to “Master Lü’s Spring and Autumn Annals”, it is customary for the Chinese to “sweep the dust” in the Spring Festival or lunar new year during the reigns of Emperors Yao and Shun. “尘” (dust) and “陈” (old or stale) are homophones. Thus, according to folklore, to sweep the dust before the new year is to get rid of the old and welcome the new which is symbolic to mean getting rid of “poor and bad luck” and so forth to welcome the new.
26th day of the 12th lunar month: Butchering the hog to carve the year’s meat
In ancient times, times were harder for the people and they wait a whole year to be able to afford meat. Everyone would make arrange in advance and this is the day to launch the pace of preparing for the new year.
28th day of the 12th lunar month: A Cantonese saying goes, “28th day of the 12th lunar month, clear the dirt”
It means the whole family will stay at home on this day to clean and put up Spring Festival couplets to welcome the new year.
The eve of Chinese New Year: The reunion dinner
Known also as New Year’s eve dinner, family members from afar will return home on this day to reunite with their family and have a reunion. The eve of Chinese New Year is also the most important part of the end of the year, when the sound of firecrackers is used to usher in the new year.
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