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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Indonesia, Lesson 3 - Chinese New Year
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Indonesia Series at IndonesianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Indonesian holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 3, Chinese New Year. In Indonesian, it’s called Imlek.
Every year around the beginning of February, ethnic Chinese people in Indonesia celebrate the Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year celebrations are full of traditions that, when followed, are said to bring abundant good fortune in the next year. The celebration is fifteen days long and ends on day 15 with Cap Go Meh.
In this lesson, we’ll learn how Chinese New Year is celebrated in Indonesia.
Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
The color red is synonymous with Chinese New Year. Do you know which colors are not allowed during Chinese New Year?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. So, keep listening.
One long-standing tradition during the Chinese New Year is to clean one’s house, or rumah, thoroughly before the Lunar New Year, an act which represents purification from bad luck, in Indonesian called sial. Doors and windows are repainted and adorned with papers inscribed with the Chinese character “Fu”, meaning “good luck”. New red clothes and shoes are specially prepared to be worn on the day of the Lunar New Year, and many make sure to cut their hair, or rambut. Statues of gods and goddesses are washed with water mixed with seven kinds of flowers said to counteract bad forces. All of this is done to get rid of bad luck.
On New Year’s Eve, all the doors, or pintu, and windows, or jendela, in the house are opened to allow luck to come in, and all the lights in the house are turned on to wish for brightness throughout the year. People may go to the temple, along with their family, or keluarga, to make prayers. The temples themselves are decorated with lanterns and red paper inscribed with prayers are hung from the ceilings.
Not only ethnic Chinese, but also tourists flock to witness the ceremonies. All types of food vendors come, offering Semarang specialty snacks, such as wedang ronde, which are sago balls and fruits in ginger drink, tahu gimbal, a salad of fried tofu, shredded cabbage, sprouts, egg and shrimp tempura dressed in peanut sauce, and spring rolls.
Chinese New Year celebrations are full of symbolism and meaning. Lion dance performances are synonymous with happiness and luck. The amount of food served during Chinese New Year is symbolic of the twelve zodiacs, consisting of twelve main dishes and twelve types of cake. Some common foods include Siu Noodles, which symbolize long life and prosperity; lapis legit, which symbolizes layers of fortune; and fish, which symbolizes great fortune. On the other hand, eating porridge is prohibited because it symbolizes poverty.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
The color red is synonymous with Chinese New Year. Do you know which colors are not allowed during Chinese New Year?
In addition to bringing feelings of joy and optimism, the color red, in Indonesian merah, is also believed to ward off evil spirits. However, black and white are avoided, because, in China, black is the bearer of bad luck, while white is the color of death.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Is the celebration of Chinese New Year in your country similar to Indonesia?
Leave us a comment telling us at IndonesianPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!