PETALING JAYA, Jan 17 (Bernama) -- Red lanterns of various sizes and
shapes are making their way into homes, shopping complexes and many offices in
the Klang Valley.
It is an indication that Malaysians are getting ready to usher another
major celebration in the country, the Chinese New Year (CNY) or Gong Xi Fa Chai.
This year of the Water Dragon, the fifth of the 12 Chinese animal zodiac
signs, makes its auspicious entry on Jan 23.
The celestial dragon is the ultimate symbol signifying success and happiness
and the Chinese believe the new year will bring good luck to those born in the
Dragon year individuals are believed to be mostly enterprising, artistic,
innovative, powerful, lucky, passionate and intuitive. On the negative side,
they can be conceited and quick-tempered.
And as the superstition reminds, not only red lanterns adorn homes but red
should be the life theme right from the eve of the New Year until Chap Goh Mei,
a period of 15 days, to enhance one’s good luck for the year.
Thus, it is of no surprise that these lanterns and many traditional
embellishment items are available only in red.
USE RED TO TAP MORE DRAGON LUCK
In the old days, the lanterns were made of thin red paper. Then came the
thicker red paper lanterns, shaped either spherically or slightly elongated and
narrow at the lower end.
Today, there are lanterns made of floral cloth or brocade-like textured
velvet, but they still come in red.
Susan Lim, the co-owner of a crafts shop in SS14, Subang Jaya recently
shared with Bernama some highlights of the lantern and its significance.
"Putting up lanterns on the porch has been a tradition since the olden days.
I have been selling them for many years. Many treat these lanterns as ornaments
to decorate their homes every Lunar New Year,”
“This new red velvet lantern looks great. You can buy a pair for
about RM78. The ordinary ones come in various sizes; medium and large and
they are priced slightly at over RM30 a pair, for better quality ones.
According to Lim, the sales for CNY accessories -- including the
artificial ‘Mei Hua’ or plum blossoms mostly in red and pink, red satin ribbons
and lanterns to usher in the Chinese New Year -- usually pick up tremendously
just two weeks before Gong Xi Fa Cai.
“I have to decorate my shop earlier so that I can promote the available
elements for my clients’ consideration. And the customers can set their budgets
as well,” Lim went on to explain.
RED FOR GOOD LUCK
“Wear a lot of red to usher in the dragon year. For youngsters today who do
not fancy the colour red, wear the lucky colour as a complimentary colour, like
a red belt or accessory to go with their New Year attire,” Eric Leong, celebrity
interior designer and the Dulux Colour ambassador suggested recently.
In his younger days, Leong used to have a set of red inner garments to be
worn on the first day of the Lunar year.
And so did his siblings.
"Every year we take these red inner garments to wear, we do it for good
luck," Leong said.
Flowers, too, do play an important role during the Lunar New Year.
Do you know why the Mei Hua are a favourite among housewives every
time the Lunar celebrations begin?
Even the writer is intending to buy a bundle of the fresh Mei Hua for her
Fresh talks are priced around RM38 for a small bundle, slightly more than
1.5 metre high, at florists in Subang Jaya.
The artificial ones are sold by the stalk as well, slightly over RM4 each
stalk of red, white or pink, while the bigger bunches are priced around
Leong agreed that the element of abundance should be observed whenever
possible, including where flowers are concerned.
“Use a lot of flowers for the house from New Year''s eve, and during the
family reunion dinner. When you have more and you show more, it is a good sign.
The hope is enhanced to have more all through the year. That is the belief of
our ancestors,” Leong said.
What is the significance of this flower?
“The Mei Hua is a resilient plant, it can survive even in the cold of
winter. Having it as a decoration in the house for the celebrations can give
the same resilience to the household as well,” Lim replied when asked on the
significance of these plum blossoms.
LUCKY CHARM POSTERS
The sales of lucky charms, to be hung or stuck on to the door and walls of a
house or office, are brisk in the stores and stalls two weeks before the New
A trader of these items in USJ11, Subang Jaya, who preferred to remain
anonymous said that colourful posters of the dragon are available in two sizes,
medium and large.
“They are priced at RM3 and RM5 a pair, respectively. Pasting them on the
external part of your front door is said bring happiness to the inhabitants
"The large ones are suitable for the front door, while the medium ones can
be pasted indoors,” the trader explained while showing the two packets of
different sized lucky charms to an interested female shopper.
There are also lucky charm buyers who do not observe any superstitions but
purchase them to entertain their young children, as it contributes to the
“I paste these posters for decorative purposes only. It gives a feeling of
happiness, especially when you have young children in the house,” Joanne Tan
These lucky charms are mostly red and gold in colour, with a clear presence
of the Dragon in the foreground, with calligraphic words of great hopes
for prosperity and happiness on the side.
The ushering in of good luck for the Lunar New Year usually starts a
fortnight before the new calendar begins, and as usual the Yee Sang (or the
Prosperity Toss) -- a feast of raw fish and vegetables in different colours.
representing abundance for good luck -- is held by corporate
companies for their staffs and friends. This is not only to foster better
relationship but also for better productivity in the Dragon year 2012.
“Other than the Yee Sang feast with family members, I also buy dry foodstuff
as gifts for senior citizens, so that they can use them as an ingredient for
the reunion meal on the eve of the New Year. I buy mushrooms, scallops and
oysters, among other things, in dry form and send them out in a box with a red
packet (Ang Pow) placed on top of it.
"Red is for good luck and greater wealth,” Madam Lim, who is in her late
50s, explained at a Yee Sang get-together recently.
Gong Xi Fa Cai to all Malaysians celebrating the Chinese New Year and may
the water dragon bring happiness and harmony for all!
HBH PR INE RON