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Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year 2017 and 2018

Indonesia is a nation with a reputation for diversity. While the majority of the Indonesian population is consisted of non-Chinese Muslims, Chinese New Year is a significant event in Indonesia.

YearDateDayHoliday
201728 JanSatChinese New Year
201816 FebFriChinese New Year

Chinese New Year is a public holiday that allows Chinese people to reconnect with their families and celebrate the arrival of the new lunar year. Chinese New Year is always celebrated on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, this holiday is celebrated during early spring.

History of Chinese New Year

In China, the lunar new year was celebrated as early as ancient times. In 1928, the Kuomintang party of China attempted to change the Chinese New Year holiday from the first day of the lunar year to the first day of the Gregorian year. The majority of people in China opposed this idea of changing the holiday to January 1st, so the official date of the Chinese New Year holiday was changed back to the first day of the year on the Chinese lunar calendar.

In 1967, China stopped celebrating the Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival due to the Cultural Revolution. After Mao Zedong’s death, the Chinese New Year was unofficially celebrated in several areas of China. The Chinese New Year did not become an official holiday in China until 13 years after Deng Xiaoping’s implementation of economic reforms. In 1999, Chinese New Year became an official holiday in Indonesia. Today, Chinese New Year is celebrated in China, Indonesia, and various other nations across the world. In Indonesia, Chinese New Year is celebrated in areas with large populations of Chinese people. These areas include the cities of Jakarta, Singkawang, Batam, and Ketapang.

Traditions

Most of the Chinese New Year traditions in Indonesia have been borrowed directly from China. This is primarily due to the fact that Chinese New Year in Indonesia is celebrated by Chinese expats, descendants of Chinese people, and Chinese travelers.

  • Red Envelopes

    One of the most popular Chinese New Year traditions is the gifting of red envelopes. In Chinese, these red envelopes are known as hongbao (红包). In most situations, these red envelopes are gifted to children from elderly people. It is also common for married couples to give red envelopes to unmarried members of their family. These red envelopes often contain money. The amount of money in an envelope is often a number that denotes good luck. Common amounts are eight (八) or six (六). A total amount of four is never gifted in red envelopes. Four, or si (四), is similar to the Chinese word for death, or 死. People also give even amounts of money in red envelopes for the Chinese New Year. Odd amounts of money should only be gifted during funerals. It is important to note that most Chinese people identify odd and even numbers with the first digit. For example, 90 and 70 are odd numbers according to the Chinese method of identifying odd and even numbers. In place of money, some people will give away chocolate coins in red envelopes.

  • Markets


    Prior to the Chinese New Year celebrations, many markets near large Chinese communities in Indonesia will open. These markets often sell fireworks, clothing, toys, and gifts. It is a common practice for Chinese people to give their friends and family members gifts during the Chinese New Year celebrations. Some of the most popular gift items range from everyday items like kitchen knives to sweets like candied fruit.

  • Family Gatherings

    In Indonesia, every member of a Chinese family will reunite with each other in a central location. Once every family member is a present, a large meal will be enjoyed. A combination of traditional Chinese food and local Indonesian food are often enjoyed by people celebrating the Chinese New Year in Indonesia. Some of the most popular traditional Chinese dishes include jiaozi (饺子), mifan (米饭), suanlatang (酸辣汤), hongshao niurou (红烧牛肉), and tangcuyu (糖醋鱼). Jiaozi is a traditional Chinese dumpling that is often filled with pork, beef, or vegetables. Mifan is a simple bowl of white rice. Suanlatang, or hot and sour soup, is a favorite dish of many Chinese people. Hongshao niurou is a simple dish of beef that has been braised in soy sauce. Tangcuyu is a basic fish dish that has been marinated in vinegar and sugar. During the Chinese New Year celebration, family members share good stories about their accomplishments over the past year.

  • Fireworks

    In most areas of Indonesia, fireworks are banned. This is largely due to the presence of tension between Chinese minorities and other Indonesian ethnic groups. In cities like Jakarta, firecrackers are permitted for use during these celebrations.

  • Decorations

    In Chinese communities in Indonesia, Chinese people often hang oval-shaped red lanterns. Red banners are also common.

Chinese New Year is an Indonesian public holiday that honors the Chinese minority. It also allows Chinese people in Indonesia to take some time off of work to enjoy some of their cultural traditions.