Sunday, 11 March 2018

My First Chinese New Year Experience in Malaysia.

Every year for the past few years Jasiminne has invited me to spend Chinese New Year with her family in Malaysia. Every year I've wanted to go, but haven't been able to get the time off work for whatever reason, and so this year, I made it my mission to finally do it. Especially living in Australia, it means I'm only an eight-hour flight rather than a fifteen-hour one.

I wasn't really sure what to expect from Chinese New Year, but as a guest from a totally different culture I was really conscious of not doing any faux pas, so I asked Jasiminne for a full list of things I should/shouldn't do. The list basically just included; wear as much red and gold as possible, no all-black clothing, no all-white clothing, no black and white clothing, always take your shoes off at the front door - you never wear shoes inside the house, and do NOT call anyone a generation older than you by their name, you call them 'Aunty' or 'Uncle'.

I basically packed a suitcase full of red dresses just to be safe, and I also made sure to bring lots of gifts with me in the form of Australian chocolate and sweets. Jasiminne's family have all spent a fair amount of time in Melbourne, so they all had things they missed from Australia. I took a whole plethora of different flavoured Tim Tams and Arnott's biscuits with me to give to them as a small thank you for hosting me. I also gave them a super cute Koala thank-you card. 

I'm one of those people who takes things in their stride and doesn't really get nervous about things, I see everything as an adventure. But I was still a bit worried I would do something wrong or say something offensive by accident. Thankfully all was fine and I even managed to say 'Gong Xi Fa Cai' correctly (even though I kept forgetting it at first - I've said it so much now that it's permanently seared into my brain)! So, let me tell you more about what actually happens at Chinese New Year.

On the Thursday evening we went to Jasiminne's Dad's family for their reunion dinner. After introductions were made we all gathered around the table to 'toss the noodles', the idea is that each person has a set of chopsticks, and you have to toss the noodles/salad as high as possible to bring prosperity for the new year. This was great fun and naturally went EVERYWHERE. Everyone was laughing and it was actually a great ice breaker, despite the language barrier. 

Dinner consisted of traditional Chinese dishes (hellooooo crispy roast duck!), and loads of Chinese desserts. The desserts were literally incredible, lots of coconut jelly things and sugary caramelized things. After dinner we did some karaoke on the home-karaoke system; Jasiminne's Dad and I dueted to the Bee Gees, and then Jasiminne and I dueted to Gold digger and her Grandma was laughing so hard I thought she was having a heart attack. It was super fun and was the first time in weeks that I actually properly belly-laughed! 

Firecrackers were let off outside, and Jasiminne and I left to get an early-ish night before we flew to Borneo the next day for the reunion dinner with her mum's family.

In Borneo the reunion dinner at Jasiminne's maternal side of the family's home was just wonderful. Their family reminded me of my own, and her warm and welcoming grandparents and aunts, uncle, and cousin made me feel like one of the family. They involved me in everything, even the 'Ang Pow' giving, where they generously give out money to all of the unmarried 'children'.

For this reunion dinner Jasiminne and I went all out with the outfits. I wore a gorge red lace dress from one of my fave Aussie stores, Witchery, and Jasiminne wore a super cute dress from Shein. Obvs we both wore red lipstick and accessorized with gold handbags. I'm not entirely sure what's going on in the photo of me flashing my bum, but it makes me laugh, so into the blog post it goes.

The smiles Jasiminne's family offered and kindness they showed warmed my heart and made me miss my own family. Her grandparents barely spoke any English, and I can only say 'Gong Xi Fa Cai', and yet being in their home made me feel relaxed, comfortable, and just at peace. I spent the entire time with them all with a huge smile on my face, and enjoyed all of the delicious food they laid out. We had everything you could think of, from authentic sweet and sour pork, to crispy duck, and even those cloud-like puffy buns you get in the fancy Chinese restaurants in London! 

Jasiminne and I ate so much food that we both ended up top-and-tail on the sofa in food comas. Her Aunty Anna thought we looked adorable so took a photo haha. After dinner we watched some of the Winter Olympics, ate more sweets (including the amazing coconut jelly her mum made), and had the Ang Pow ceremony.

Chinese New Year was SO much fun, and honestly just like a Western Christmas! It's a celebration full of family, food, music, sweet treats, laying on the sofa in a food coma, and watching tv.

Have you ever experienced Chinese New Year with a Chinese family?

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  1. Great photos!!! Very interesting to read your blog post.

  2. You NAILED the Chinese New Year greetings! I'm going to test you on your Mandarin in a year's time to see how much you've remembered! x

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