Chinese New Year In Sabah


A quarter of the world’s population celebrated Chinese New Year on 14th February 2010, and at least another quarter of the world’s population celebrated Valentine’s Day. With half of the world’s population celebrating, the 14th was a very good day. How often can it be said that the world is in celebrations?

In Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Chinese New Year is one of the biggest festivals in the country. The Malays celebrated their new year in October 2009. Then, we celebrated New Year on 1st January, now we celebrate Chinese New Year.

My angelic girl and her cousin.

My angelic girl and her cousin.

What Chinese New Year Means
For the Chinese, this is the biggest day of the year and is one of the busiest period of the financial year. For those of us in the retail trade, this is one of our busiest cycle. So work-wise, it is a mad dash towards the finish line, and everyone is pulling together to get the job done. Restaurants gear up for this day, as many families will choose to have dinner in a fancy restaurants. Especially this year, when Chinese New Year falls on the same day as Valentine’s day.

Chinese New Year in 1 Borneo

Chinese New Year in 1 Borneo

In the days before the new year, everyone will be busy cleaning their homes, and shopping for new clothes. New clothes is a must-have to usher in the Chinese New Year, and to start the new year at the office. For some, this includes new cars. New furniture are also high on the shopping list, because it is traditional to have open houses at this time of the year. Since many companies pay out bonuses at this time, many people will out shopping and picking up good deals.

The many types of mandarin oranges are often given as gifts to friends, family and business associates. In Chinese, mandarin oranges are called ‘Kam’, which has the same sound as gold. Although red is a predominant color in Chinese culture, gold is our favorite color. Honey mandarin orange, which are the small oranges about the size of a golf ball is the sweetest, and many comes in gift packs making them ideal gifts.

Chinese New Year for kids

Chinese New Year for kids

Giving plays a big part of Chinese New Year. It starts with Chinese New Cards, mandarin oranges or food hampers, and finally Red Packets or ‘Ang Pows’. Many non-Chinese are familiar with ‘Ang Pows’ nowadays. The red packet are given to parents or elder relatives as a sign of filial piety, ‘Ang Pows’ are also given to children of all ages. The Chinese defines children as any child or any person who is unmarried.

Dragon, Lion and Unicorn Dance
The highlight for many children and adults are the spectacular Lion Dances, which are part dance and part stunts. For those of you who have never seen a lion dance, you can catch them performing at hotels, shopping malls, businesses or residences during the 2 weeks Chinese New Year is celebrated. The performances are even more impressive when you consider the performers do this only during this time of the year, and none of them are professional lion dance troupes.

Dance of a Chinese Unicorn

Dance of a Chinese Unicorn

There are also a hierarchy in these mythical creatures, with Dragons being the most respected, followed by the Unicorns, and then the Lions, including the seldom seen Peking Lions which are the most playful of the lot. While Unicorn dances are not as spectacular as Lion dances, symbolically they are brings of good fortune.

Every year, a troupe of 18 lions performs at our place, often the veteran troupe leader would arrange a surprise. Sometimes, it is a dragon dance, other times the entire troupe of unicorns will join in. It is truly spectacular to see 18 lions performing in front of you. This year, he arranged a unicorn dance, with a type of unicorn I have never seen before. It was fearsome looking, and moves like a ferocious creature. You can see a short video clip of the unicorn below.

To all the readers of this blog, I wish everyone a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year, may all your hopes and aspiration comes true.
GONG XI FATT CHAI!

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This entry was posted on Monday, February 15th, 2010 at 3:39 pm and is filed under Featured, Living Here. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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