Are CNY traditions relevant in 2023? Perakian Gen Z speaks

by Anne Das

What is Gen Z? Aged between eight and 23 years of age, generation Z or the post-millennial generation will take the lead in just a few decades. Having been born into the world at the turn of the century – the oldest were born in 1995 and the youngest in 2010, arrived on this planet with a tablet and a smartphone in their hands.

The Lunar New Year is one of the most exciting festivals in Malaysia. Also known as Chinese New Year, this festival of renewal has varied religious and cultural significance especially here in Ipoh, Perak. A multitude of lively and colourful traditions have been built around this holiday for centuries during its celebration, and it is a great opportunity to witness it through the lens of our Generation Z. They have been poised to change the world since they first entered it. Instead of subscribing to every tradition imposed within their community, these generations enjoy shaking things up or even disregarding them altogether in the spirit of their creative and social potential.

Ipoh Echo went onto the streets to gather some intel straight from the mouths of the next generation of change bringers. Speaking to us on the topic of Chinese New Year here, their thoughts, and feelings about the tradition and what changes they wish to see or make for a better 2023 in Ipoh.

1)Mark Chong (23) Businessman, lives in Meru Valley

Mark Chong (23) Businessman, lives in Meru Valley

I grew up in a family that would reunite every year, my house was always full of relatives and friends during this season. I look forward to Chinese New Year because of the food, playing mah-jong and lots of fireworks. My family and I love to cook, and so we make all the traditional dishes for the family reunion. Ipoh has become overly crowded during the festive season and its not convenient to go out to eat. Also, this way, I have learnt how to cook most of the important dishes.

I will continue the traditions but many of my cousins have relocated overseas so I wish to travel and experience CNY in other countries too.

For 2023, I am building my own concept restaurant, it is in its final phase and I hope for it to be Ipoh’s trendiest cafe, a place for my generation to hang out, make new friends and enjoy good food.


Tan Sun Cheng (19) – Student living in Wira Jaya

I grew up in a very traditional home where during CNY we pray to Tian Gong, we have reunion dinners and we visit relatives. If it wasn’t for my family, I doubt I would do these traditions on my own. There is a certain pressure around this time with endless questions about my grades from relatives and older family friends. Nevertheless, I still look forward to this holiday because I get to spend time with the whole family and let’s not forget the home cooked traditional dishes.

For 2023, my hope is to make this traditional event more inclusive, in true Malaysian fashion where the local Chinese community shares this new year merriment with all, regardless of race or religion.


Chan Pui Yee (18) Student. Lives in Pengkalan

I grew up in a household where red traditional outfits were a must and no sweeping on New Year’s Day. I find it important to learn and emulate many of the superstitions and teachings because they were passed down from my ancestors. I look forward to home cooked meals especially seafood, the excitement of fireworks, and the fostering of our relationship as a family with the reunion.

In 2023, my hope for Ipoh is that we all unite to change the environment for the better, to foster a mindset of a clean city where our streets are clean as well as our rivers.


Yang Zhong Hao (21) Student from Ipoh

I grew up in a family where we are quite traditional during this festivity. I personally enjoy the fireworks and also baking of the New Year cake. I look forward to pcelebrating at home during CNY and look forward to the gatherings of relatives and friends. Ipoh has become so busy its hard to even get a table reservation anywhere. It is better to celebrate at home.

My hope for Ipoh for 2023, is that we have better roads.


Brandon Ong (23) Student. Lives in Station 18 area

I remember growing up with traditions but they are not really relevant. “Preparing to go back to my hometown” was the sentence I remember most and the fireworks. My family taught me to follow the Bai tian Gong, where prayers are offered to the ‘Heaven God’ on the 9th day of the Lunar New Year. CNY feels like a coin, one side it is like Christmas, celebratory and united and the other side, not so fun. That is the pressure when relatives ask so many questions about my life. But what trumps it all is my grandma’s home cooked dishes.

My hope for Ipoh in 2023 is that public transportation in Ipoh will be improved. The roads are getting busier and traffic is getting congested everywhere with increased cars. We need better public transport to alleviate this.


Chung Zi Yu (21) Student. Lives in Perak Tengah

I grew up with the tradition of decorating the house with Hui Chun – the Red Banners/ Couplets and decorations made from red and gold paper with marked messages of good fortune, happiness, prosperity, and a long life. I enjoy wearing traditional outfits during this time of the year and look forward to family reunions even if there are many questions about my life from relatives.

My hope for Ipoh 2023 is that the traffic can be eased. The roads have become so congested and we students would be very happy if public transport were more readily available and better organised.


Brandon Phang (19) Student/Real Estate Negotiator. Lives in Lahat.

For the first day of CNY, all of the members of the Phang family will gather at the house of Big Grandmother. Most of my relatives will come back to Malaysia to gather for this festivity. We believe in family and coming together for the reunion and that surpasses any other tradition or superstition. There are times where it can be quite embarrassing when relatives compare me to their kids, or when I cannot find common topics to discuss with the elder relatives. But ‘angpows’ always smoothen the situation. As for home cooked meals, I prefer to eat out, although it is more expensive, at least I do not have to do the dishes. At our home, we always have the signature ‘Roasted Whole Pig’ for the reunion dinner. Which is my favourite.

My hope for Ipoh in 2023 is that the government controlled prices of goods during festivities especially during Chinese New Year. Most F&B outlets in Ipoh are opened during the CNY period with hikes in prices, this is not fair. I also hope the real estate industry will do better this year.


Lim Wei Kang (18) Student. Lives in Ulu Kinta

I grew up in a family that looks forward to wearing traditional outfits, putting up decorations and having lots of fireworks during CNY. I am very proud of the traditions my parents taught me, which revolve around honesty and love. I enjoy celebrating CNY at home as well as travelling, both has its uniqueness and fun. Eating longevity noodles at our favourite restaurant is what I look forward to this year. No clean up required.

My Hope for Ipoh for 2023 is that the Perak government acknowledges the climate problem and support climate action, such as improving public transport quality and accessibility, banning single-use plastics, and encouraging more green urban spaces.


Won Zhi Qing (21) Student. Lives in Rapat Permai

I grew up in a family that would decorate our house every year. As simple as it sounds, it is something I look forward to and I hope to continue this tradition. I especially enjoy the Lou Sang and sharing the home cooked meal with my family and extended relatives during this time. It must be extra special because we only get together once a year.

My hope for Ipoh in 2023 is that employers nurture us, the younger generation and give us the work-life balance we require, mentorship and personal development opportunities.


Lew Zi Kang Age (19) Lives in Chemor

CNY to me is all about eating delicious vegetarian food, dressing up in new clothes, visiting relatives and receiving the bright red packets. I get grilled by relatives regarding my results and if I have a girlfriend, which can be quite embarrassing but I do look forward to the reunion dinner. It is customary at my home to watch movies and play mahjong too.

My hope for Ipoh in 2023 is that people don’t cling on to the past, but move forward towards the future.


Ching Zi Wei Age (19) Student. Lives in Chemor

Every year during CNY, we visit relatives, we wish everyone ‘Gong Xi Fa Chai’ and we light up the sky with fireworks. I have learnt a lot about the traditions from my parents and they have taught me to always be honest. I am looking forward to this year’s CNY because it comes only once a year and we get to see everyone again.  To me, I prefer to stay here for the holidays rather than travel. I love Tang suits and will wear this traditional Chinese clothing for the celebrations as it adds to the festivities and is grand. During the “Tuan’nianfan” reunion dinner, our family members reaffirm the love and respect that binds us together and together we enjoy ‘Poon Choi’, which is a traditional meal enjoyed mainly during the CNY season.

My hope for Ipoh in 2023 is that we maintain its unique history, charm, and food, in preparation to receive more visitors this year and the years to come. It is my hope that the government and the people of Ipoh work together in improving the infrastructure, facilities, and diversifying tourist destinations here.


FOON YOKE YAN (19) Lives in Ipoh

During CNY and especially this year, I look forward to eating a variety of vegetarian dishes, dressing up in the traditional outfits and visiting relatives. I anticipate a huge family reunion and truly like everything about it except for the endless questions regarding my private life. In the meantime, I am trying to learn as much from my parents regarding the Chinese traditions of cleaning the altar and worshipping of our ancestors this season.

My hope for Ipoh in 2023 is for the government to fix our damaged roads. Our cars drive on it everyday and there are numerous potholes everywhere. We want to be ready and proud of our city as it is visit Ipoh year.

Show More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button