Chinese New Year is around the corner and it’s time to celebrate the auspicious new year! As someone who grew up in a mixed family, Adlynn Diyana Ahmad Kamal celebrates Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and also Christmas! The 34-year-old financial analyst and content creator has Chinese ties on her mum’s side of the family and this year’s CNY is no different. Adlynn shares with us how she’s celebrating Chinese New Year this year!
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What do you usually do in the evening before CNY and during the day? What type of activities do you do?
Photos credit: Adlynn Diyana Ahmad Kamal
We’d usually go back to Kuantan, where mum’s family side is. My mum’s the only one who converted to Islam, so we still celebrate Chinese New Year with them. Depending on everyone’s availability, we’d do the reunion dinner on the eve of CNY or on the first day of CNY.
On New Year’s Day, we’d go to my grandma’s house where everyone would gather there. When I say everyone, I meant my cousins, uncles, aunts and grand aunt as my great-grandfather was the first sibling of the family. So, the house is the gathering place for the whole family. My grandma is turning 93 years old this year, so we try to spend as much time as we can with her. The main activity of the day is usually makan-makan and giving out ang pows for the kids and single adults.
You mentioned the reunion dinner. What do you usually have?
We mostly eat out and would pick halal Chinese restaurants and sometimes even Malay restaurants. On New Year’s Day, they'd cater food from Malay catering as my family enjoy Malay food as well. We’d have nasi dagang, satay, chicken curry and many more. So, it’s not really Chinese food for CNY!
Now you have two kids - what have you prepared for them for CNY?
So far only new clothes. Usually, we don’t prep much, just buy them new clothes.
You also celebrate other festivals like Christmas and Hari Raya. Do your kids enjoy celebrating them?
We do celebrate other festivals and my kids enjoy celebrating them with our families. Especially when he received gifts on Christmas and ang pows on CNY and Hary Ray. We celebrate because it’s a family tradition as I have families who are Chinese and the other part is to have fun with the kids. Nothing religious even though my grandma is Christian so when we celebrate Christmas it’s just for family gatherings and gift exchanges.
What is the most memorable CNY experience for you?
When I was small, my grandma invited a lion dance at the house. They hung cabbage and angpows on the roof. Normally, we can only see a lion dance at the mall so when they come to the house it was fun and exciting! It’s a core memory, for sure!
Chinese have many superstitions esp during CNY. Can you tell us if you also follow these traditions (like not wearing black, etc)
We don’t follow these superstitions and haven’t been for a while. We kinda make fun of them though - like how you’re not supposed to sweep the floor - so when kids spilt something and they need to sweep the floor, we’d jokingly say “Haa, cannot sweep the floor, no more “ong”.” You don’t want to keep the house dirty. Even with wearing black on CNY, we don’t have any rules against it.
You also have a large following on social media. Have you received negative comments when you posted that you celebrate other festivals? How do you overcome these negative comments?
So far, I haven’t received any negative comments, maybe because most of my followers have been following me since the beginning and I have been celebrating these festivals my whole life so they’re used to it. But I only had one person who questioned me and I told her off. I said it’s just a family tradition and we don’t do any religious ceremonies. Celebrating other festivals doesn’t make me any less Muslim.
How has your husband navigated this mixed marriage? Is he open to celebrating other festivals?
My husband is open-minded and enjoyed whatever we do. Even before we got married, I brought him back to my hometown in Kuantan to celebrate Christmas together. We had dinner and a gift exchange, it was fun! And two years ago, I brought my mother-in-law to Kuantan to celebrate Christmas and she also enjoyed herself.
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