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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Same Festivals, Different Celebrations

Andy Wang & Jeffrey Cheng

    Although Chinese festivals are celebrated around the globe, they are celebrated in different ways in different places.  In Taiwan and Malaysia, the two most important holidays in Chinese culture are celebrated in ways that are a little bit similar and a little bit different.   Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in Chinese culture. It is as important in Chinese communities as Christmas is in western countries. On Chinese New Year’s eve, families gather for a reunion dinner. The food served at the reunion meal is extremely delicious. However, you should not finish any of the dishes completely; you should always leave a little. This is because the Chinese word for “left over” also means “more than enough,” so by leaving some on the plate, you will bring good luck and, in the new year, you will earn more than you need.   

    In Taiwan, after finishing the reunion meal, youngsters greet their elders and parents and grandparents give the youngsters lucky envelopes with a little money inside and wish them a happy new year. Later, as they stay up waiting for midnight and the beginning of the new year, some Taiwanese play mah-jong, cards, or dice with friends to win a little more good luck or extra lucky money. These same activities take place in 
Chinese homes in Malaysia, too.   

     The Moon festival, as known as Mid-autumn Festival, is the second most important festival in Chinese culture. During Moon Festival, families usually have moon cakes and pomelos, and sit outside and enjoy the full moon. Of course, the full moon is a symbol for “completeness,” so it also a time for families to come together for some quality time.  

     In recent years, Taiwanese have started having barbecues instead of eating the traditional moon cakes, and pomelos. In contrast, Chinese in Malaysia have kept with the traditional foods. On the other hand, the Malaysian Chinese celebrate the Moon Festival with activities that are different from the traditional ones seen in Taiwan. In Malaysia, people have lantern coloring contests during the Moon Festival. In Taiwan, people play lantern games on during the Lantern Festival.

      Although the way people celebrate common holidays is different in different places, the meaning of these traditional Chinese festivals remains the same. They are all about family gathering together and enjoying each other’s company. If you have a chance to participate in these festivals with your local Chinese community, we highly recommend it. These festivals are really quite interesting, and something you should not miss!

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