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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.


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.


“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.


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

festive cheer.

“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!



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