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Today, Saturday February 10, our compatriots in the Chinese community are celebrating the Spring Festival. Placed under the sign of the Wooden Dragon, Chinese New Year celebrations began yesterday, February 9, with the New Year's Eve dinner and continue this weekend.

According to the Chinese calendar, this year, the Wooden Dragon is in the spotlight. This element symbolizes vitality, growth, but also kindness, empathy and perseverance. Lunar New Year festivities began a few weeks ago. “It all started on the day of the winter solstice, December 22. Many people went to the pagoda to offer thanks. Through offerings, they expressed their gratitude to the Good Lord for having granted their requests,” explains Ah Kwet Li Kwong Ken, former president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Ah Kwet Li Kwong Ken, former president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
Ah Kwet Li Kwong Ken, former president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

A few weeks before New Year's Day, cleaning the house begins, as well as baking cakes and buying new clothes, among other things. Then, the day before, Friday February 9, the rituals begin in the morning. “The day before the festival is of great importance. In the morning, we go to the pagoda to thank God and pay homage to the ancestors with offerings, whether vegetarian or not. Chicken, fruit, biscuits, meat, cakes… it all varies from person to person,” explains our interlocutor.

In the evening, it's the big New Year's Eve dinner that brings the whole family together. On the menu, we find steamed chicken, abalone, sea cucumber, pork garnished with “teokon” and red rice seeds, fricassee brede, chop suey, fish fin soup. shark, among others. Sweets, such as the famous “wax cakes” or Thu Chong Gao, are offered for dessert.
“It’s a big feast that we prepare ourselves. The whole family comes together on this day. We work all year round and don't often have the opportunity to meet our loved ones. It’s really the time when everyone comes together for a big dinner,” says Ah Kwet Li Kwong Ken.

Today, February 10, our compatriots will start the day with the sound of firecrackers. However, this will again depend on each family. Our interlocutor explains: “Traditionally, depending on the person's horoscope, we ask the pagoda the ideal time to set off firecrackers. But nowadays things have evolved. People themselves choose the time that suits them best. However, a large number of people still respect the tradition.”

According to custom, on New Year's morning, a sandal is lit accompanied by religious rituals and prayers. Then, our compatriots of Chinese faith go to the pagodas to pray. This first day of the New Year is synonymous with vegetarianism, no meat is consumed. As soon as you wake up, it is advisable to have a sweet breakfast. In addition, sweeping or doing laundry is prohibited on this day. “It is also prohibited to wash your hair, use scissors, needles or any other sharp object. In addition, it is not recommended to break dishes, wake up a sleeping person or take a nap. These are all customs to respect to start the new year on the right foot,” he adds.

Vegetarian dishes

At lunch, vegetarian dishes are in the spotlight, notably “Lon Hon Choy”, a dish made from transparent rice vermicelli and mushrooms. For dessert, we find “Lian Zi”, made of lotus seeds, lily petals and red jujubes. According to Ah Kwet Li Kwong Ken, “the idea of ​​eating vegetarian is to have good health throughout the year.”

He explains that in the past, Chinese people did not go out on New Year's Day. However, nowadays they go out and can even go to the hotel, among other activities. “I remember, when I was little, that you had to wait until the second day to leave the house. But, now, people go out from the first day to go to the hotel or elsewhere. Things have evolved,” he concludes.

The Spring Festival ends 15 days after its start, with the Lantern Festival.

New Year's Eve dinner consists of several courses.
New Year's Eve dinner consists of several courses.

Lloyd Lai Fak Yu: “We are focusing on the big New Year’s Eve dinner”

For Lloyd Lai Fak Yu, the Spring Festival is an opportunity to bring the family together.
For Lloyd Lai Fak Yu, the Spring Festival is an opportunity to bring the family together.

Lloyd Lai Fak Yu celebrates the Spring Festival with his family, considering the New Year's Eve dinner the most important part of the festivities. “After a year of hard work, it’s the day I reunite with my loved ones, my brothers and sisters, my nephews and nieces. It's like a closing dinner for the year we've had. We focus on the big New Year's Eve dinner, where we don't deprive ourselves of good dishes,” he explains.

The festivities began yesterday morning with a moment of contemplation in front of the oratory at his home, where an offering was presented in homage to the ancestors. On this festive day, an opening dinner is planned to welcome the new year, consisting mainly of vegetarian dishes.

Emilie How Hee: “At home, we are very respectful of tradition”

Emilie How Hee respects tradition.
Emilie How Hee respects tradition.

Following tradition is very important to Emilie How Hee. On this festive day, she will be dressed in red. “At home, we are very respectful of custom. I am going to wear red, because it represents happiness and luck,” confides our interlocutor, who plans to go to the pagoda in the morning.

The day before, the whole family gathered for the big dinner. “We tasted chicken, which is synonymous with prosperity, fish which symbolizes abundance, without forgetting 100-year-old eggs, shark fin soup, sea cucumber, among others.” And today, time for vegetarian dishes. “It’s a tradition that we have always respected. We only eat vegetarian dishes.”

This year, Emilie How Hee will spend this day at home.

The pagodas will welcome the faithful on this festive day.
The pagodas will welcome the faithful on this festive day.

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