We experienced our first Chinese New Year in Malaysia this February. Chinese New Year is a holiday where the Chinese honour their dead ancestors, similar to the day of the dead in Mexico. They put out oranges for their ancestors so they can honor them, and also believe that the bad spirits get trapped inside the orange. The Chinese play music, throw parades and conduct lion and dragon dances to respect their ancestors . They also burst firecrackers to chase away the evil spirits. The custom is to clean out their houses of old stuff and repaint and prepare the entrances to welcome prosperity and wealth. This particular custom is like the Hindu New year called Diwali.
The traditional colour of Chinese New year is red. Everywhere people decorate their houses with red lanterns and oranges to welcome the good spirits into their homes. People who celebrate are not allowed to sweep a week before Chinese New Year, as they say it sweeps out the good spirits.
When they visit their families they have a traditional dish called Yee Sang, a special salad that they mix with noodles, peanuts, salmon, sweet sauce, nuts, sprouts and lettuce. Each of the ingredients has a significance and is a meal that brings prosperity to their lives. Whoever tosses the noodles higher will get the most money.
I experienced Chinese culture when I did a production called Colors of Malaysia, and I was the stage manager. The stage crew learned how to do the dragon dance. This is a video of me doing the Dragon Dance. Notice how the dragon bows three times as a sign of respect.