PRESS STATEMENT 9 FEBRUARY 2013
HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!
Chinese New Year is an annual celebration marking the start of the new year according to the chinese lunisolar calendar. It always falls in the months of January or February, and each year is represented by 1 of the 12 creatures of the Chinese Zodiac. 2013 is the Year of the Snake!
The beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian (年). Nian would come on the first day of New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One time, people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the color red. Hence, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, Nian never came to the village again.
The most important element of Chinese New Year is the reunion dinner which is held on the eve of the New Year. This is the time when all family members will come for a meal together in the parents or eldest brother’s home.
Yee sang/Low sang
In Malaysia, a dish called "yee sang" is the first to be served. Yee sang (Prosperity Toss) is a teochew-style raw fish salad, and everyone at the table will help to mix this salad with their chop sticks – with lots of noise, laughter and smiles. The tradition is that the higher you toss the salad, the more your fortunes will grow in the new year.
There are also lion dances and fireworks. Red paper showing Chinese characters of prosperity and wealth are pasted either in front or inside the house. "Ang Pow" or red packet containing money is given out to children and the elderly. "Open house" is practised for visiting relatives and friends with various ethnic races. The new year is lasted for fifteen days, whereby the concentration is on the first three days. The celebration ends with 'Chap Goh Mei' (Chinese Valentine's Day) on the fifteenth day.
May you be blessed with happiness, good health, and prosperity this Chinese New Year!
新年快乐! 恭喜发财! 蛇年大吉!
On behalf of MASCA Victoria 2012/2013,
Sharifah Alia Alsagoff