Penang – Chinese New Year’s Eve

posted in Malaysia

Penang – Chinese New Year’s Eve

Dates: 27 Jan

Gong Xi Fa Cai, 恭禧發財

Mandarin for “wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year” (pretty much, anyway). This is a very common greeting around CNY and is similar in effect to “Happy New Year” to English speakers.

For the first time, in 2017 I was actually somewhere that celebrated Chinese New Year properly – Penang, Malaysia. I spent it at a guesthouse (there is another story to this place, click here and read the recent 1* reviews to see) near Love Lane in Georgetown.

On Chinese New Year’s Eve we spent the evening in the guesthouse where the owner put on a steamboat for us, a tasty broth in which you put your own bits of food in, let it cook, then take your part out with a bit of the broth and you have your own personal noodle soup. This was mostly fish, tofu & veg – I didn’t have a fish head personally but a few others gobbled them up. The quails eggs on the other hand were beautiful and disappeared pretty quickly.

Chinese New Year, Georgetown, Malaysia - Travel Photography

Chinese New Year, Georgetown, Malaysia - Travel Photography

Chinese New Year, Georgetown, Malaysia - Travel Photography

Chinese New Year, Georgetown, Malaysia - Travel Photography

Later on in the evening after this there was a salad that’s called Yusheng/Yee Sang. This translates to “Prosperity Toss”, and has several different components that are said to bring different fortunes to you in the next year:

  • Fish – for abundance & excess throughout the year.
  • Lime – for luck.
  • Pepper – for money/valuables/general wealth.
  • Oil – for the above to come to you from all directions.
  • Carrots – for more luck.
  • Green Radish – for eternal youth.
  • White Radish – for prosperity in business and a promotion.
  • Peanut Crumbs – for gold & silver.
  • Sesame – for more prosperity in business.
  • A Sweet Sauce (I think we had plum) – for a sweet life
  • Deep Fried Flour Crisps (basically corn flakes) – for more wealth

(there are probably more variations of this and some places may see different parts meaning different things, but this is the one we had and this is how it was described to us)

Once all of this has been put together you gather around the salad with chopsticks and toss it up in the air, plenty of mess is actively encouraged during this.

Personally I thought it was disgusting so I didn’t eat much and as a result I’m probably going to have a crappy year according to Malaysian traditions.

Chinese New Year, Georgetown, Malaysia - Travel Photography

Phone snap of us tossing the Yusheng