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A Malaysian Guide to the Chinese New Year
Small Business and Self-Employed

A Malaysian Guide to the Chinese New Year

The Lunar New Year is one of Malaysia's most thrilling festivals. This celebration of renewal, also known as Chinese New Year or Spring festival, is spiritually and culturally significant in the South-East Asian nation, where a quarter of the population claims Chinese heritage. 

Over the centuries, since its origins in China, a plethora of lively and colourful traditions have grown up around the event. It's a fantastic opportunity to observe Malaysia's unique and diverse culture through its take on Chinese New Year celebrations.

What is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is a festival that commemorates the first full moon of the new lunar calendar year. 

On a Western calendar, the main day of the Lunar New Year falls anywhere between January 21 and February 20. Celebrations often continue until the full moon after that.

During the festivities, people enjoy meals with their families, take in parades, and make wishes for a prosperous new year.

How Do People Celebrate in Malaysia?

The Lunar New Year is a time for families to get together and wish each other luck and prosperity for the coming year. Cards are commonly sent to relatives and acquaintances, and many family gatherings take place on Chinese New Year's Eve. 

People want to start the year off on a positive note, so they will pay off any bills and try to be on their best behaviour. Even using foul language or discussing unpleasant themes is frowned upon. The emphasis is on starting the year with a clean slate, letting go of the past, and starting afresh as you mean to go on. 

Not Just One Day of Celebration

The celebrations last 15 days. Many shops will be closed or have limited hours during this time, especially those within the majority of Chinese neighbourhoods.

The festivities start with fireworks displays and parties to bring in the new year. 

The majority of the most significant festival rituals are performed at home, including a thorough spring cleaning (to sweep away bad luck), the traditional New Year's Eve family dinner, making offerings to ancestors, and giving ang pows (red envelopes with money inside, also known as lai see), to young, unmarried relatives and children.

However, there is also a public element. A variety of amazing traditional parades and performances, such as lion dances, are free to the public, and special festival dishes are only available during this time of year.

Festival Foods

If you are fortunate enough to be invited to dinner by a Chinese Malaysian family, you will be able to enjoy a range of meals intended to bring you good luck. 

One of the main delicacies created, especially for this occasion, is Yee Sang. Yee Sang is a salad seasoned with hoisin sauce and other condiments and prepared with various vegetables, fish, and dumpling wrappers. 

The salad is great on its own, but it takes on extra meaning as part of a family tradition. The salad plate is put in the centre of the table, and everyone is supposed to toss it up in the air with their chopsticks. People will try to send it as high as they can in order to invite good fortune.

Chap Goh Mei

The holiday concludes with a bang on the 15th day, with inhabitants decorating their homes with vividly coloured light displays in an event called Chap Goh Mei. 

As part of Chap Goh Mei, there is a tradition that single women would throw oranges into the sea in the hope that it will grant them a partner and a happy marriage. In a modern twist on the custom, single women now write their phone numbers onto oranges before throwing them into the water. Men in fishing boats will go out and scoop up the oranges. 

The tradition is a reflection that this is an auspicious time to perform acts that could lead to good fortune in the coming year. 


Travelling to spend time with loved ones is a significant aspect of the Chinese New Year celebrations in Malaysia

The ethnic Chinese population in Kuala Lumpur is comparable to the Malay population in terms of size. Since many of these individuals are not natives of KL, they must travel back to their hometowns for the holiday season in order to spend time with their relatives. 

However, Balik Kampung (return to the village) is a practice that is not just used by Chinese Malaysians. A lot of Malay and Indian people use the holidays to travel back to their hometowns. All of this makes it extremely unwise to travel in Malaysia during CNY, especially on congested roads.

For visitors to Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown comes to life during the festival with fireworks and parades, as does the area around Old Klang Road. Elsewhere in the country, Georgetown City on Penang Island is a site to behold as its ornate temples are lit up beautifully for the festival.

Grow Your Business With QuickBooks

The Focus on Finances

Many business owners in Malaysia see the Lunar New Year period as a time to reflect, take stock, and ensure debts are paid.

Once again, the emphasis is clear here; sweep out the old and start afresh with a clean slate. It’s evident business owners want to get everything in order so they have a clear view of their business’ health to put their best foot forward into the new year.

With QuickBooks accounting software for small businesses, they can get a holistic view of their finances with numerous helpful features all in one place. 

Automated systems can assist business owners in managing their finances:

As a result of having all this automation in one convenient location within an intuitive interface, QuickBooks enables business owners to gain control over their money and make more educated decisions.

Give QuickBooks a try with a 30-day free trial if you want to start the new year with a better grasp of your money.

We want to wish you a happy new year from wherever you are in the world!

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