CNY in 5 Different Countries

Jason Lim – Japan

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Photo courtesy of Jason Lim

Where are you living right now?
I am living in Osaka, Japan and have been there for the past 12 years.

What do you do normally do on Chinese New Year (CNY) in your City?
I would visit the China Town in Kobe, which is 25 minutes away by train from my place.

Is there any family or cultural tradition that you practice during CNY?
Yes, I would ask my wife not to clean the house on first day of CNY and also have my daughters say new year greetings to me and my wife before giving them their ang pow.

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What kind of food do you eat during CNY?
We would have Chinese food in my hotel’s restaurant for dinner so we can savour some Chinese delicacies. (Jason Lim holds a Managerial post in the Hilton, Osaka)

Is there any unique CNY practice that the people in your city do?
Usually China Town in Kobe is pretty much crowded and they do lion dances and Chinese opera shows there.

What message do you have for our Chinese readers in Brunei?
Please visit Japan, not just during CNY, Cherry Blossoms or Autumn leaves, but also in other seasons because Japan’s just a fun place to be in.


Mr & Mrs William Huang – Taiwan

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Where are you living right now?
My wife and I live in New Taipei City in Taiwan, not far away from both our parent’s families who live in the same city.

What do you do normally do on Chinese New Year (CNY) in your City?
In Taiwan, we have many days of CNY holidays. It starts from CNY eve to the fifth day of the lunar calendar. It is the most important event in the year. Some family members who work outside of the town or country will come back for reunions during this time.

Is there any family or cultural tradition that you practice during CNY?
Elder people usually give money in red envelopes to young kids or family members who are unmarried as a blessing. We say some blessing words to each other, like gon-sheefa-chy (恭喜發財) this means “congratulations and wish you wealth “.

What kind of food do you eat during CNY?
Before CNY eve, we usually purchase a lot of food and snacks for the CNY holiday celebration. This food is also used as a sacrificial offering to our ancestors. Fish in a dish that is not completely eaten always symbolises abundance and prosperity. Snacks are just eaten for fun and we can just forget about dieting without feeling guilty during these days.

Is there any unique CNY practice that the people in your city do?
A couple of decades ago, there were many dancing Chinese dragons and lions on the street during CNY. But now you will only see this performance in some temples. On the 15th day of the lunar calendar, it is the Yuan-Shau Festival or 元宵節 in Chinese. People take lanterns outside, or go visiting the Lantern Festival in Taipei City.

What message do you have for our Chinese readers in Brunei?
Wish you guys a healthy, wealthy, and prosperous New Year.


Heng Yong – Germany

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Where are you living right now?
I am living in Hamburg, Germany.

What do you normally do during Chinese New Year (CNY) in your City.
There is no China Town in Hamburg. Normally we celebrate with our neighbour who is from Hong Kong. We go for Dim Sum at the Chinese restaurant during the first weekend, as it is not a public holiday in Germany. We also invite our German friends over.

Is there any family or cultural tradition that you practice during CNY?
On the eve of Chinese New Year, we clean up the house. Then we fill up the rice container and put a ‘‘常滿’’ sticker. The full rice container is a symbol meaning there will always be enough food for the family. On the first day of Chinese New Year, we are busy phoning and greeting all the family and relatives in Brunei and Malaysia, as we can’t visit them personally.

What kind of food do you eat during CNY?
On the eve, a fish is a must for the reunion dinner as it symbolises ‘‘年年有餘’’ and also rice dumplings ‘‘湯圓’’ for ‘‘ 全家團圓’’. We also have roasted duck, BBQ pork ‘‘叉’’ and roasted pork ‘‘燒肉’’ which we order from the restaurant. On the 7th day, we have the Yusheng ‘‘魚生’’ also known as ‘‘撈生’’. We make a raw fish salad and toss it as high as possible for wealth and prosperity.

Is there any unique CNY practice that the people in your city do?
Chinese New Year is only celebrated amongst the Chinese community. Normally people either celebrate at the restaurant or at home. There is no public celebration, the Lion Dance is hard to find.

What message do you have for our Chinese readers in Brunei?
It will be the year of Goat, I wish all the readers a 喜氣羊羊 with all the luck, happiness, and prosperity.


Udaya Halim – Indonesia

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Udaya Halim, second from the left at his daughter’s wedding ceremony in Jakarta.

Where are you living right now?
I am currently living in Tangerang, a city with the population of almost two million people West of Jakarta, Indonesia.

What do you normally do during Chinese New Year (CNY) in your City?
Due to its long history and vast population of Chinese in Tangerang, called” Cina Benteng” the Chinese New Year festivities have always been celebrated within the family, even during the 30 years when anything Chinese was banned by Suharto and his regime. Unlike people in other countries in the world who use the greeting “Gong Xie Fa Chai” during CNY, in our city we still use the old traditional greeting which is the old Hokkien dialect of “SIN CHUN KIONG HIE” or simply “KIONG HIE”.

Is there any family or cultural tradition that you practice during CNY?
My family celebrates the CNY in a very simple way. Beginning with the evening prayer, we usually set an altar table with two sets of plates with fruits meant as an offering to my late parents and to my wife’s parents who have also passed away. At 12.00 midnight we start praying, first to Tikhong (Chinese-God), then we invite the spirits of our parents to be with us during the festivities.

What kind of food do you eat during CNY?
As for the CNY meals, I usually cook this myself. Two days before I am usually busy buying meats, vegetables and especially for CNY I have to cook a very traditional dish called “PINDANG BANDENG” (a MILK FISH soup with tamarind, red chilli, shallots which have previously been put on open fire to get the hot sensation; together with bay leaves and both sweet and salty soya sauces).

Indonesian performers dressed as mermaid...Indonesian performers

Is there any unique CNY practice that the people in your city do?
On CNY day, everyone will try to get up early and get dressed up in their new clothes. The kids will wait for us parents to be ready and my wife and I have to prepare ANG PAO (Hong Bao) for our four children. They will then greet each other, starting with the youngest to the eldest.

After breakfast, we normally visit our ancestral homes to pay our respect to our late parents and also to meet our siblings and next of kin. The practice of visiting the homes of older families’ is still done in our city. Even children and teenagers from the neighbourhoods will come and congratulate you. So you must prepare many Hong Baos for those unexpected guests!

What message do you have for our Chinese readers in Brunei?
We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate those who will be celebrating CNY in Brunei and elsewhere. Wishing you all “SIN CUN KIONG HIE, THIAM HOK THIAM SIU” (Happy Spring Festival, may this New Year bring you more Luck and Longer Life) 添福添壽.


Kathy Gong – China

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Photo courtesy of Stefen Chow (KG Inc)

Where are you living right now?
I am now living in Beijing (China) but I spend CNY in Chengdu with my family.

What do you normally do during Chinese New Year (CNY) in your City.
The eve of CNY and the first day are the most important moments to spend with your family and relatives. Eating together, lighting fireworks, and watching the national Spring Festival Gala on CCTV 1 channel are a routine for most of the families here in mainland China. No one would miss this national TV program which lasts for five hours every year during CNY.

Is there any family or cultural tradition that you practice during CNY?
Staying up late on the eve of CNY symbolises the embracing of the coming New Year. There is also the New Year Eve feast; waiting for the first bell to ring in the New Year, the elderly giving “hong bao” (Red Pocket) to the young (which has inspired Tencent, one of the Chinese Internet giants to digitalise the red packet giving tradition among WeChat friends’ circle. This allows one to link her/ his bank card via WeChat Pay to spread red pockets to friends.

What kind of food do you eat during CNY?
We usually eat traditional local cuisine with a wide range of poultry, fish, beef, lamb, pork and all kinds of vegetables. We also enjoy rice, noodles, spring rolls and rick cakes… literally everything!

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Is there any unique CNY practice that the people in your city do?
Chengdu people invented “mahjong” and people love it! It is their life passion, so everyone plays mahjong during the CNY holiday, and of course all year round as well.

What message do you have for our Chinese readers in Brunei?
I would like to remind your readers that the CNY celebration like the Chinese culture, is much more than just the food, crackers, red pocket money etc. It has existed for thousands of years and unites Chinese people worldwide with its core values: family values, trusted community, love for peace, hope for a better future, and hard work. Hopefully one day I can invite overseas Chinese in Brunei to join my family in Chengdu (China) to celebrate CNY together.


This article was published in the February 2015 issue of Inspire Living Magazine. Download it here!

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