February 13, 2021, 01.03 AM
A golden-colored statue of an ox at the Kwan Sing Bio temple in Tuban, East Java KOMPAS.COM/HAMIMA golden-colored statue of an ox at the Kwan Sing Bio temple in Tuban, East Java

"Fish, especially milkfish, symbolizes blessings, particularly in finances, because their scales are shiny like diamonds. Pork and chicken also symbolize fertility," she notes.

"All three are also viewed as luxurious foods. This means that we should eat well, at least once a year," said Lili.

She added that traditional layer cakes or kue lapis, or other sorts of layer cakes, are also staple desserts for the Chinese New Year, as they symbolize layers of luck. 

4. Wearing new outfits

Like the Western New Year on January 1, the Chinese New Year is also about letting the past go and welcoming the future. For observers of the Chinese New Year, sporting new outfits symbolizes a fresh start and renewed hope. The new outfits even extended to underwear. 

"The symbolism is that every bad fortune that sticks [on our clothes] will be shed if we wear new outfits for the new year." Red is a favored color for new clothes and decorations, as it symbolizes joy and fortune.

5. No negative speech

Hartanto also noted that negative speech is taboo during the Chinese New Year. "We should stick to speaking well of others. Just as we watch what we say during normal days, we should do the same on sacred days [like Chinese New Year]," he notes.

Lili agreed. "Negative words can bring bad luck to the coming year. If we did so unintentionally, we should apologize," she said. But whether it be word, deed, or apparel, one can approach the Chinese New Year with a clean slate in more ways than one. 

(Writer/Editor: Theresia Ruth Simanjuntak)



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