Chinese New Year Custom in Indonesia

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The celebration of world’s greatest migration, is about to begin, and Indonesia, a home to at least 3 million Chinese ethnics, will also celebrate it. If you want to feel the festive atmosphere of this celebration, you can travel to experience it with Pigijo, to Chinatown in cities like Medan, Pontianak, Semarang, Surabaya and Jakarta as well. In those cities, you can find red lanterns are hung in each side of the entrance door in many houses, and the letter “FU” is mounted up side down, which means prosperity descends from the sky. A picture of Chinese God of Fortune along with the picture of Rat representing the year of 2020 are also decorated all over the house.

House cleaning ritual has started a week before the celebration day as an effort to attract and keep The God of Luck inside our houses, as it is forbidden to do any cleaning during the New Year day. The damaged furnitures was replaced with new ones, the paint on the wall was renewed, the gloomy curtains was changed, even the bed got its new sheets. All will dress up as new clothes are prepared and hair was cut, to welcome the new year that will bring new opportunities and fortune.

The biggest preparation was done at the house of the elders, because they will get visit from their younger family members and close relatives. Angpao (red pocket) was prepared for children and young people who are not married, and all kinds of traditional Chinese food will be served to welcome incoming guests. Prior to that, there was a ritual that was no less important.

On the eve of the Lunar New Year, the whole family will gather at the parents’ house to enjoy dinner with the best food together. This is an important moment because most of them live far from their hometowns, and can only return during the Chinese New Year.  All will stay up waiting for midnight, and the sound and light from firecrackers will be the sign of New Year. Some people might choose to pray together at the first dawn of the new year, while other might choose to rest for their activities in the next morning.

The awaited day finally come, people wear the best clothes to visit the elders and relatives. Culturally, red is a color that can attract good luck, therefore red shirts are highly recommended to wear on the first day of the New Year. Children are eagerly anticipating the Angpao, they will recites “Gong Xi Fa Cai, Xin Nian Kuai Le” (bless you with the fortune, and happy new year) while practicing to shape their fists in front of their chests, hoping their parents will visit many houses so they can collect a lot of Angpao. For Chinese people, this custom of giving Angpao is a form of blessing from the elder to the young, because they have been a polite and devoted children to their parents. Commonly for several families, they will visit uncle and aunt from the mother’s side first, later on the second day they will visit the family from the father’s side.

Be prepared with a flexible stomach because you will be invited to eat together in every house you visit. Many New Year’s special dishes will be served, particulary The New Year Milkfish and Mooncake. The celebration will continue until the 15th day after the new year, and will be closed with Cap Go Meh (festival of the fifthteenth). After that, all decorations will be taken down and stored again for use in the next year. And even some of the young children have already dreamed of the Angpao they will receive next year.

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