Festive favourites

Some of these festive must-haves are symbolic to everyone who celebrates.

Ang Pow
Ang pow-giving is a customary practice during Chinese New Year, where red packets or envelopes with money inside are given out by married individuals to those who are not married, especially the children. Giving the ang pow is a symbol of goodwill to bless the children with health and good fortune in their studies or jobs. The ang pow colour is usually red, which means good luck and prosperity.

Mandarin Oranges
In Cantonese, mandarin oranges are known as kam, which means gold and these are must-haves as they signify wealth and good fortune to come. These days, mandarin oranges come in boxes flown in from China and are given away as gifts to friends and relatives.

Lion Dance
The lion dance is a form of traditional performance in Chinese culture that has become ubiquitous during Chinese New Year to ward away evil spirits. These days, lion dances are also performed during opening or launching ceremonies and special functions.

Tasty treats: Yee Sang and Nian Gao (below) are among the must-haves in the food department.

The lighting of lanterns symbolise brightness that brings hope and luck, and homes as well as temples will be lit up with these during the celebration period.

God of Prosperity
Chinese New Year has to do with everything auspicious and everyone looks forward to the God of Prosperity making his appearances to bring good luck and blessings like giving out sweets, mandarin oranges and also ang pow.

These days, handy and decorative bamboo plants or twisted bamboo canes are among the must-haves for the home, as bamboo is said to symbolise resilience, nobility and longevity.

Yee Sang
This multi-coloured raw fish salad makes its presence during Chinese New Year where it is tossed with friends and family members, and the higher one tosses, the better it is as it signifies greater fortunes. Fish, or yu, stands for abundance or excess and surplus of luck and wealth through this new year.

Nian Gao (Sticky Cake)
The sticky pudding, where the Chinese characters nian and gao translate to year high or tall, respectively, is eaten to symbolise the “raising of oneself” in each coming year, as with the Chinese saying Nian nian gao sheng (or higher leaps every year).

Everything Red
Red is an important colour as it is supposed to give good luck, which is favoured by the Chinese, especially during this festive period when you go house visiting.

However, red is not played up as much these days.

Price of vegetables that is believed symbolise good tidings are expected to go up (30 %) as higher demand and lower supply.

These include pak choy (cabbage – which gives the meaning of wealth), sang choy (lettuce – longevity), spring onions (chung – wisdom) and leeks (suan, which rhymes with “counting” in Mandarin).

Mandarin oranges stay affordable
A container of mandarin oranges cost US$1,500 (RM5,000) compared with US$1,200 (RM4,000) last year.

The difference of US$300 is about RM1,000, making a box of mandarin oranges dearer by about RM2 compared with prices last year.

Best asam laksa
I'm interested to read On The Beat section which highlights the best asam laksa in country. So here is the quote:

Sparkle of magic as we get together (The Star)

The roads in Penang normally come to a gridlock especially on the second day of CNY as tourists start to make their way here.

My family house is in Kampung Melayu, Air Itam, which is not too far from the Kek Lok Si pagoda temple and Penang Hill.

It’s a lot worse for Penangites staying in Tanjung Tokong and Tanjung Bungah with traffic on the road leading to the hotels in Batu Feringghi almost certain to come to a standstill. The asam laksa at the nearby wet market (Paya Terubong), I swear, has to be the country’s best