Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is a major holiday in Malaysia, as it has a large Chinese population. The holiday is celebrated for 15 days, typically starting on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar, which falls between January 21st and February 20th. The Chinese New Year celebrations in Malaysia are characterized by traditional customs, vibrant colours, and delicious food. Families gather to have large meals together and exchange red envelopes filled with money.
One of the most popular customs is the lion dance, which is performed by trained dancers who wear elaborate lion costumes. The dance is believed to bring good luck and prosperity and is usually performed at Chinese temples, businesses, and homes. Another custom is the reunion dinner, which is typically held on the eve of Chinese New Year, this custom is celebrating the gathering of all family members. Many families will also decorate their homes with red lanterns, banners, and other decorations, and will light fireworks to celebrate the new year. The main day of the Chinese New Year is usually marked by parades with lion and dragon dances, accompanied by drums and cymbals. Also with the visiting of relatives and friends, and giving of red packets to children. During the 15 days, there will be many other customs like visiting and praying in temples, asking for blessings, visiting ancestors' graves and various cultural and art performances.
Interesting food during Chinese New Year!
Food plays an important role in Chinese New Year celebrations, as it is a time for families to gather and share meals together. Traditional Chinese New Year dishes vary depending on the region, but there are some that are commonly enjoyed during the festival.
Some of the traditional foods that are often served during Chinese New Year include:
Fish: Fish is considered to be a symbol of prosperity, and it is usually served whole to represent togetherness and unity.
Dumplings: Dumplings are a popular food during Chinese New Year, as their shape is said to resemble ancient Chinese money. They are usually filled with meat and vegetables and can be steamed, boiled, or pan-fried.
Noodles: Noodles are typically served at the end of the New Year's Eve meal because they represent long life and good luck.
Glutinous Rice Cake: These sweet sticky rice cakes are typically enjoyed during the Chinese New Year celebrations because their name "Niangao" sounds similar to the phrase for "increased prosperity".
Spring Rolls: Spring Rolls are often served during Chinese New Year as a symbol of wealth. They are usually filled with meat and vegetables and are fried until golden and crispy.
Peking Duck: Peking duck is a famous dish from Beijing and is considered a luxurious dish that can be enjoyed with family and friends.
Mindful Eating during Chinese New Year
Eating healthy during festive seasons can be challenging, as many tempting treats and high-calorie foods are often available. However, with a little planning and mindfulness, it is possible to maintain a healthy diet while still enjoying the celebrations. Here are some tips for healthy eating during the festive seasons:
Moderation is key
It's okay to indulge in some of your favourite festive foods, but try to do it in moderation. Eating a small portion of something sweet can still be satisfying and help you enjoy the holiday without feeling guilty.
Make healthy choices
When faced with a spread of food, choose fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins over high-calorie or fried foods. Also, opt for grilled, baked or steamed dishes over fried.
Be aware of your food choices, and try to eat slowly, savouring each bite and stopping when you are full.
Exercise is an important way to maintain a healthy lifestyle and help you balance out any indulgences. Try to maintain your regular exercise routine or find fun ways to stay active during the holidays, like going for a walk after dinner.
Drink plenty of water and try to limit your intake of sugary drinks, which can contribute to weight gain.
Keep a healthy perspective
Remember that the holidays are about celebrating with friends and family, not food. Keep things in perspective and try to focus on the non-food aspects of the celebrations.
By following these tips, you can enjoy the festive season and still maintain a healthy diet. Remember, the most important thing is to have balance and enjoy the moments with loved ones.
Written by: Alia Adrina Asri
Love Earth Nutritionist
BSc Nutrition (Hons)