Chinese New Year 2016 Celebration in Indonesia – A Positive Reflection of Social Caring

Chinese New Year Celebration in Indonesia
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I am a Chinese descendant, or people call it Tionghoa descendant here. Following the tradition of our ancestors, we celebrate Chinese New Year today, or Imlek as we called it in Indonesia. So, let me tell you a bit about Chinese New Year 2016 celebration here and how this is related to a social caring lesson.

The Origin of Chinese New Year Celebration

Barongsai (or Dragon Dance) is one of the usual tradition to celebrate Lunar New Year

Giving a sum of money to the Barongsai is part of the Chinese New Year tradition

After doing a bit of research, I finally found myself the origin of Chinese New Year. In China mainland, Chinese New Year was known as a Spring Festival. It is the most important celebration for families.

I heard there are legends saying why Chinese New Year is celebrated.

A long time ago, a monster named Nian, which dwells in the deep sea all year round showed up every new year’s eve to eat people and livestock in nearby villages. Therefore, on the day of New Year’s Eve, people would flee to remote mountains to avoid the monster.

This desperation finally ended when an old man with white hair successfully scared away the monster by burning a bamboo to make a loud cracking sound (I believe it was ancient firecrackers), pasting red papers on doors, lighting candles and wearing red clothes!

Besides the interesting legend above, I believe there are two main reasons why we celebrate Chinese New Year:

  1. To celebrate a year of hard working, and with the Chinese New Year, we will have a good rest and some time to relax with family; and
  2. To wish for a lucky and more prosperous in coming year.

Hence, the Chinese New Year will be celebrated with reunion and eating together with a family (usually dinner), dragon dancing (barongsai), giving red envelopes to the young member of family, ignite the firecrackers and decorate the house with red accessories.

In short, all family members are gathering. Big families of several generations sit around tables and enjoy all food and time together. What a lovely celebration.


The History of Chinese New Year Celebration in Indonesia

Glodok Chinatown, an area in Jakarta, Indonesia. Many Chinese descendants make a living hereGlodok Chinatown in Jakarta, via

Once, all I know about Chinese New Year (sometimes called as Lunar New Year) were the elders who happily celebrate it with dinner, house decorated with red lantern and mandarin (Chinese) writing, the conversation about new shio (Chinese Zodiac) and I received Angpao (red envelopes with a sum of money inside).

I had asked to my dad why people didn’t really excited with Chinese New Year as with Idul Fitri (Eid Al-Fitr; majority of people here is Moslem) or Christmas day, and he didn’t answer it clearly. Up until I finished my elementary school, I realized that Chinese New Year is restricted to celebrated publicly in Indonesia.

The Indonesian government under Soeharto regime once prohibits all things related to Chinese, including Chinese New Year since 1967. By the grace of God, the dark history ended in 2000. The newly elected president, Abdurrahman Wahid, has revoked the regulation and we have regained our freedom to celebrate Chinese New Year publicly. Moreover, it was officially declared as national holiday.

The red envelopes, or we called it Angpao as I said before, is the most popular part of Chinese New Year tradition. The elderly give the Angpao to children and unmarried juniors. The Angpao has money in it. Belief says Angpao will bring good luck, and those who received it are wished with another safe and peaceful year.

The Connection Between Social Caring and Chinese New Year 2016 Celebration in Indonesia

Chinese New Year 2016 celebration in Indonesia trend is to some social activities like distributing food and money package

People waiting for the distribution of sembako via

Besides the family-centric Chinese New Year tradition above, there is a new social tradition rising in Indonesia. Vihara (a Buddhist Temple) in various region, like Vihara Buddhasasana in Riau, Sumatera and Vihara Satya Darma in Kuningan, West Java are celebrating Chinese New Year with social activities, like distributing basic food staples for those in need. The complete package (we call it as sembako) will usually consist of; rice, sugar, vegetables, meat, oil, milk, egg, kerosene or gas, and salt.

This year, there are even more Chinese descendant communities or Viharas participating in social activities. The distribution of the sembako reach even larger number of people compared to last year. Most homeless people and low income people were helped and some really feel gratitude to this rising trend of social activities at Chinese New Year.

At the end of the day, it turns out that social activity may be simultaneously held with a celebration of cultural activities. Thus, the social-centric activities shall be new and unique tradition. Besides the red envelope, the distribution of food staples for those in need might be a unique, distinctive and a lovely Chinese New Year celebration.

Helping people are connected with boosting social caring sense, and this will lead to unlock your happiness in life.  If you have a business or a job, always keep in mind that your business or job should help your client/customer in a positive way, and success will eventually come to you. You can read more of social related life lesson articles in here.

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Wishing you prosperous year! :)

(The Featured Image used is courtesy of

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Alexander Blue

A writer, gamer, book lover, music addict, and a dreamer. My life motto is 'Every thousand mile begins with a single step'. I like to share helpful information with others because the positive feeling is contagious and it will make everyone's life better.

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  1. Dominic

    Hi Alexander, I really enjoy your post here about how Chinese New Year is celebrated in Indonesia and the history behind it. I live here in Malaysia, and every year without fail, Chinese New Year is celebrated in a very fire cracking way and with loads of free mandarin orange been given out lol! Anyway, I never really look into the history for it as I usually busy going to open house invitation and before I was married, love running around collecting ang pow lol! So what I’m saying is, thank you very much for taking the time to do research about Chinese New Year celebration history in China and Indonesia. This is truly an eye opening experience for me.

    1. Alexander Blue (Post author)

      Hi Dominic, good things that you are from Malay :) I heard that Malaysia also has a festive celebration of Chinese New Year. Well, angpao is certainly a favorite gimmick in Chinese New Year celebration :) Haha. Thanks for sharing your experience too.


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