how is chinese new year celebrated

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone!  We are now ushering a new year, the year of the dragon, and we are going to start things off with a bang!  One of the most important holidays for the Chinese is the Chinese New Years.   There are many variations on how is Chinese New Year celebrated around the world.

Being from Canada, typically we would have a warm family dinner on a cold winter’s day, and that would be pretty much it, since in North America, Chinese New Year’s is not a public holiday.  However, over here in Asia, in places such as Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China, Chinese New Year’s is a massive public holiday!  How is Chinese New Year Celebrated for my wife and I?  Here’s how I celebrated it in Malaysia with my wife’s family!      

After surviving the traffic jam from Singapore to Johor Malaysia on the Chinese New Year’s eve, my wife and I eventually reached my in law’s (my wife’s parents) house in Malaysia.  Since Chinese New Year’s is a family affair, then what better way than spending quality time with my in laws!  (my direct family was far away in Canada, and they were busy working since it wasn’t a public holiday…so I took the liberty to celebrate it for them!).

Each year, my in law’s would invite the entire family for a reunion dinner at a nice Chinese restaurant on Chinese New Year’s eve.  You will be surprised how lively the restaurant was!  It was jam packed!  Apparently all the popular Chinese restaurants in town were fully booked, and reservations had to be made up to 2 months in advance!  Luckily for us, we did the due diligence and booked way back in November 2011 for this year’s dinner!

how is chinese new year celebrated

How Is Chinese New Year Celebrated?  Over a great meal of course!  My wife and I with her family at the Chinese restaurant in Malaysia for the reunion dinner!

The start of any Chinese New Year meal would begin with the “lo hay”.  “Lo hay” is particularly a South East Asian custom found in Singapore and Malaysia.  I really didn’t know what it was when I first arrived in the region, since Chinese people in Hong Kong and the rest of the world don’t really do this “lo hay” thing.

What “lo hay” is, is basically a dish filled with vegetables, nuts, crackers, sweet and sour sauce, spices, raw salmon, and fruit, where each of these ingredients symbolizes some form of prosperity.  Then the process begins where everyone stands up with their chopsticks and mixes the entire platter up by picking up the items with their chopsticks.  This action is to signify good luck by mixing all these symbolic forms of prosperity.

For our “lo hay” we even topped it up with our own supply of abalone that we cut up and brought from home!

The “lo hay”, with added ingredients of abalone.  YUM!

The next dish that came out was a giant claypot filled with 8 different items.  Again each items signified a form of prosperity.  The items were, giant prawns, dried mussels, braised pork, braised duck, shitake mushrooms, brocolli, sea cucumber, and seaweed.  It was good, and very filling!  And this was ONLY the second dish out!  As you can see, how is Chinese New Year celebrated, is typically with a lot of food!

how is chinese new year celebrated

The second dish.

After this dish, there was a whole spring chicken dish, more prawns, and grilled fish.  And they all tasted great, and as you can see in the next few pictures, that was A LOT of food!


Grilled Fish!

Spring chicken!

After the enjoyable dinner, we would all go back to my in law’s house to just relax by watching some TV, playing some cards, and just chit chatting and waiting for the Chinese New Year’s count down to happen at midnight.

The moment the clock struck 12, that’s when you started to hear explosions outside.  Just like how New Year’s is celebrated in Western countries, Chinese New Year’s is celebrated with fireworks!  In addition to fireworks, it is also celebrated with fire crackers!  What’s the difference between fireworks and fire crackers?  Well fireworks you see nice displays in the sky, but fire crackers is basically lighting gun powder and watching it explode in front of you!  The point of lighting fire crackers is to ward off evil spirits, so that you can usher in the new year with as much positive luck as possible.

Watch the following clip…and you will see and hear the experience!  Happy Chinese New Year to you all! and may all of you have a prosperous and healthy Dragon Year ahead!  Enjoy!


Have you seen how is Chinese New Year celebrated in other parts of the world? Please share your experiences in the comments below!


Alec Chan

Alec Chan is an intrepid traveler, travel writer, author, speaker, serial entrepreneur and self professed Asia travel ambassador. Traveling all around Asia since 2003, and still traveling, Alec is an accomplished and passionate traveler seeking to bridge the cultural gaps in Asia. Through his unique perspective as a Canadian born Chinese, Alec shares his special insights on Asia to help others around the world to have a better understanding on Asian culture so that they can have a more meaningful, fun, and stress free trip to Asia. Alec has written numerous travel guides on several destinations in Asia and is the editor in chief of

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