Dong Dong Chiang: Tips for Surviving this Lunar New Year


The Chinese/Lunar New Year, or CNY as how the texting-generation likes to call it, is a month-long festivity celebrated at the beginning of a new lunisolar calendar. Also known as the Spring Festival, this festivity marks one of the major – if not the most important – celebrations throughout the year. Though I have not been home (Malaysia) for CNY for a while now, my years of experience as a kid and teenager growing up in a Chinese family have given me quite some insights on how to survive this occasion. This will be helpful especially if you have never been to and are planning to visit a country that observes this festivity:

1. Watch Out for the Horse – the Zodiac of the Year


The theme of CNY is usually surrounding the celebrated zodiac of the lunar year. This year, the Horse is the hero and most CNY greetings and decors should be horse themed. Learn some horse-related season greetings but don’t over do it.

2. Eat Desserts First


There will be a lot, and I mean A LOT, of food served starting with reunion dinner (the eve of CNY) all the way to Day Thirty (the end of the month). Don’t waste time and your tummy space chowing down the regular meals — go straight for the delicacies that are only available during CNY but remember to come back and taste grandma’s unique dishes too. Be sure to drink a lot of water to keep your body hydrated.

3. Find Out if You Need to Give Angpao/Lai See/Money


Thanks Internet for infographics. I think it explains it all. Angpaos are given out to your younger generation to keep them “young” and healthy. Check out more about the tradition of giving here.

4. Have Answers about Your Current Life Ready


These will come in handy when your parents bring you to visit distant relatives who would ask you the same routine questions: What are you doing now? Do you have a boy/girlfriend yet? If so, when do you plan to get married? If not, is there something you need to tell us?

5. Take a Lot of Selfies


With food, with friends, with your new outfit, with angpao packets, with yo’ grandma, and with those who you won’t see again until next CNY. After all, CNY is all about getting together with friends and families, and to check in with one another about their lives. You may feel overwhelm by the food and questions — but at the end of the day, it’s the notion of close/familial relationships that give you that fuzzy feeling inside.

That being said, I wish all of you readers a happy and safe CNY celebration this year. May the Year of Horse bring you happiness, good health, and prosperity!

Image credits (in order):,,,,

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