Tangerines. Fireworks. Dragon Dances. Red Lanterns. Incense.
I was in a bus with my friend heading to Malacca to celebrate Chinese New Year last January 2012. It was my first time to celebrate CNY and I was eager as a beaver. There was a slight congestion of traffic but not as bad as the ones we have to endure in Manila every Christmas season. My friend told me that Malacca is a popular destination every CNY because most Malaccans are Chinese and visitors from the neighboring Singapore travel by land to Malacca (about 3-hour trip). Add to that the other curious travelers and history buffs like me who want to see this UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site.
I enjoyed Malacca. And I cannot think of any better way to celebrate CNY than the Malaccan style.
How to celebrate CNY in Malacca?
1. Tangerines, anyone?
Enjoy the free tangerines. In fact, tangerines are everywhere. My friend told me that it is a symbol of luck and prosperity for the Chinese. I read from here that it is actually a language pun because its Chinese word sounds like the Chinese word for “luck”. Hotels and restaurants give out free tangerines and I was a happy traveler; no need to buy desserts!
2. Fireworks still works.
Look up to the sky once in a while; you don’t want to miss the random fireworks. I expected grand displays as I am used to the annual World Pyro Olympics in Manila. But I understand the simplicity of them since Malaysia banned firecrackers and fireworks starting 1978 for security and safety reasons. However, the use of smuggled fireworks and firecrackers from Thailand are evident the morning after.
3. Dance like a Dragon!
And be lucky all year ’round! Ok, watching the dragon dance will do. It is a staple for celebrations among Chinese as they symbolize themselves as descendants of the dragon. Exuding power and dignity, the dance is an art in itself, more than its historical and identity representations. I immediately felt lucky when I watched the dragon dance as we welcome the dragon year. Lucky coincidence!
4. Let the Red Lanterns Hang for a While…
…figuratively. The streets of Malacca were lined up with brightly lit red lanterns. I have never seen as many red lanterns before in my life so I find it really beautiful. I cannot count how many photos of them I took. Get out of the crowd, stop for a while, and trace the lanterns with your sight.
5. Light an Incense.
Go to a Chinese temple, if you have no problems with transcending religions, light an incense and pray for good luck. You are there for the CNY so why not celebrate it the way Chinese do? Because for me, this is the essence of traveling; living with the locals and indulging into their culture.
How did you celebrate CNY? Do you have any more suggestions on how to celebrate CNY in Malacca?