An estimated 2 billion people worldwide celebrate the Lunar New Year every year between late January and early February, many of which are in East and Southeast Asia. It is one of the most commonly documented festivals in the world, and Southeast Asia, China’s closest southern neighbor, the region where it is most found worldwide. The Lunar New Year is an exuberant holiday that marks the beginning of the Lunar calendar. It is marked by fireworks, lion dances, and the vibrant red that covers streets, homes, and clothing. The celebrations draw a large number of more people who are eager to take part in the fun.
Sizable Chinese communities in Southeast Asia celebrate the Chinese New Year holiday with a little local flavor. This acculturation happens because of the lengthy history of trade and emigration between China and Southeast Asia. Here are five locations where distinct cultural traditions have been incorporated into the Lunar New Year.
In Brunei, the Chinese New Year is one of the major public holidays. Chinese people frequently do cleaning days before the Chinese New Year festivities. This honors a Chinese family’s ancestors according to tradition. The custom of spring cleaning today enables people to organize their living spaces and take care of unfinished business. People are also expected to pay off their debts during this time.
With only 0.1 percent of the total population, Cambodia has one of the smallest ethnic Chinese populations in Southeast Asia. Lunar New Year celebrations in Cambodian-Chinese communities are less likely to feature massive crowds and extravagant parades. Chinese-born Cambodians typically decorate their homes, gather with family for traditional meals, and pay respect to their ancestors at Chinese folk temples.
Indonesians with Chinese ancestry have left their mark on the archipelago. The Bornean city of Singkawang is among the best examples. The Tatung Parade, a remarkable cultural fusion between the local ethnic Chinese and the Dayak people of Borneo, is even more striking than the city’s tens of thousands of red lanterns. The Tatung Parade is a magnificent example of cultural fusion between the indigenous Dayak people of Borneo and the ethnic Chinese of the area.
To commemorate the upcoming Chinese New Year, a number of cultural activities have been held in the Lao capital by the China Cultural Center in Laos and the Liaoning Province’s Northeastern Culture and Tourism Department of China. The 2023 “Happy Chinese New Year” Festival activities got underway with the Ancient Chinese Landscape Painting Exhibition with the theme “Picturesque Rivers and Mountains. Through the celebration, Lao people experienced the profundity of Chinese culture and the allure of Chinese landscapes through the festival.
The Lunar New Year celebrations in Malaysia are lavish and colorful because nearly a quarter of the country’s citizens are of Chinese descent. Young girls reportedly threw Mandarin oranges into the sea, hoping that if they recovered, they would help them find good husbands. This is the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day for a reason.
The Chairman of the State Administration Council, the Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar, the Myanmar Chinese Chamber of Commerce Chairman, and other pertinent officials attended the Chinese New Year celebration in Yangon, which was held at the National Indoor Stadium Thuwunna. Besides, the friendly festival basketball match strengthens the friendship between the two countries.
The majority-Chinese island nation of Singapore acknowledges the Chinese lunar new year for the entire two weeks, with numerous celebrations occurring across the country. Celebrating Chinese New Year involves much more than just seeing all the red and gold lanterns. It is more about understanding Singapore’s Chinese heritage and how genuinely multicultural this country is.
The largest Chinese New Year celebrations occur in the Philippines in Manila’s historic Binondo neighborhood, also home to the world’s oldest Chinatown. Binondo comes alive during Lunar New Year as people gather around lion and dragon dancers, and local politicians and celebrities distribute free candy and lucky charms from opulent vehicles.
Up to 40% of the population in Thailand is estimated to be of Chinese ancestry, making it the country with the largest overseas Chinese population in the world. Bangkok hosts celebrations in the crowds. However, the less frequented province of Nakhon Sawan hosts grander celebrations. As part of the Lunar New Year celebrations, people in the Pak Nam Pho district honor the protector spirits of their province by holding a 12-day festival known as Pak Nam Pho Chinese New Year.
China and Vietnam have a long-shared history and culture. The celebration of the Chinese New Year relies heavily on food. Additionally, during this significant festival, families visit the graves of their loved ones who have passed away, give the kids packets of money, and lay offerings on their altars.