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Counting Down To Chinese New Year

A decorated home doorway         Photo by Evangeline Han
By Evangeline Han

Junior Reporter
Youth Journalism International

MELAKA, Malaysia – It is less than four days to Chinese New Year and the hive of activity around town is on the rise.
People are visiting the shops to do last minute shopping for things such as New Year’s goodies and new clothes to get ready for the holiday.
Chinese New Year falls on February 3 this year, and many families will gather on February 2 for a reunion dinner.
The country will be officially on holiday for two days, but most people will continue to celebrate for at least two more weeks.
Streets are decorated in gold and red – considered a lucky color in the Chinese culture – and some, though not all, people decorate their homes, too.
The shopping malls in town are playing Chinese New Year music. In fact, some started playing it right after they stopped playing Christmas music.

Photo by Evangeline Han

In a bid to attract more customers, staff from the Jusco Melaka shopping center held walkabouts in the mall to distribute free mandarin oranges to customers of all races.

For Chinese New Year, married couples – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – traditionally give little red envelopes or packets filled with money to unmarried people.
A few shopping malls are also giving out free red packets to customers who spend a certain amount of money.
The tradition is to give out new money, so people head to the bank to exchange old bills for new ones.
This year, some banks are out of new paper currency, and are giving people recycled bills instead.

During every Chinese New Year, people take advantage of poor law enforcement to buy firecrackers, which are illegal without a permit.
This year is no different and some have already begun setting the firecrackers off every night.
A number of Chinese shop vendors have already shut down operations in anticipation of the holiday, but some will remain open until Tuesday.
Most of these shops will remain closed until after the first seven days of the New Year.
All these activities and changes are setting the mood for Chinese New Year, and even more preparations for this big festival season are sure to be revved up over the next few days.