This year of the rooster, a fire rooster to be exact, will fall on January 28. Those who were born with this zodiac is said to be resourceful, active and amusing, among other traits. Whichever Chinese zodiac you might be under, let the festivities of the lunar New Year bring you and yours closer by taking part in these get-togethers.
Buying others or yourself new clothes, or other everyday items, for the festival is a must. Some might just buy a new cheongsam or a bag, for example, but others might buy one of each everyday item from clothes down to bed sheets. Ingredients for the feast, seasonal snacks and candies, decorations and red envelopes are a few more items people normally buy; in general, keep your eyes peeled for promotions and discounts either in big malls, traditional markets, or even pop-up bazaar and street markets. As for gifts to those you visit, other than a truly personalised one, fruits and tea are normally the safe choice to give to almost every Chinese household.
Some families might decorate a while back before the festival, although other families believe that decorating right the night before is more sentimental or auspicious. Decorations include pasting the door good’s images—usually depicted with weapons to ward off the evil spirits—as a symbol of prayer for blessings, longevity, health and peace; hanging spring couplets on red paper—or paired phrases of seven Chinese characters each—on each side of the door frame; displaying New Year paintings for a happy and prosperous atmosphere; hanging red lanterns; and putting paper cutouts of the rooster and other mythical beings. Print a blank motif and ask your children to colour together for a fun activity.
As one of the highly-anticipated highlight of the Chinese New Year rituals, families from near and far will gather round the table enjoying dishes with symbolic meanings to bring good luck and fortune. For those who are not celebrating the reunion or new year dinners at home—or because your usual go-to restaurant is fully booked—we have compiled a list of special promotions around Jakarta. The choice foods and their meanings are: fish for increase in prosperity; dumplings and spring rolls for wealth; glutinous rice cake or kue keranjang in Indonesia for higher income or position; sweet rice balls for family togetherness; and long noodles for longevity and happiness.
Some Chinese celebrate Laba festival in remembrance of the ancient La festival on January 5this year; for the Buddhist, this day is also called Bodhi Day. Laba congee made from several types of rice, beans, peanuts, dried fruits and other ingredients is eaten on this day. The bigger celebration that everyone celebrates together is the Lantern Festival 15 days after the Chinese New Year which ends the period. Go release some red lanterns with your family to release what’s in the past and welcome new fortunes, or visit large-scale festivals to see colourful and whimsical shapes befitting the year of the rooster; other fun activities include fireworks display and eating sweet dumplings.