Things are hotting up in Miri, Malaysia as Chinese New Year approaches. There is a large Chinese population here and it is interesting to watch a culture so different from my own prepare for their traditions in a way that is not so dissimilar to how us westerners prepare for Christmas.
The malls and stores are bursting with shoppers purchasing gifts and decorations – anything and everything red to symbolise joy, good fortune and happiness – from strings of lights to paper lanterns to stuffed red dragons and the markets are loud with the chaos of people buying the customary foods they will enjoy in celebration of the coming Year of the Dragon.
If you are a women in need of primping or pampering here in Miri, you will be out of luck unless you have planned ahead, much like at home during the holidays. Hair and nail salons are abuzz with beauty preparations. On my most recent trip to the nail salon (I planned ahead), a fellow receiver of a pedicure was outdoing me by having her toes decked out in OPI’s ‘Getting Miss Piggy With It’ red glitter nail polish. On her big toes she also applied a large sparkly crystal jewel surrounded by smaller crystals in a sort of floral shape. It was beautiful and so festive (in an open-toed-shoe-only kind of way).
Of course, the symbolism differs between this Chinese celebration and that of our own holidays. The Chinese New Year is represented by one of 12 rotating animal symbols and is tightly tied to the lunar cycle. The Dragon represents good luck and power, while those born under this sign are said to possess a gift for style, among other things.
So as the firecrackers begin to explode in their enthusiasm to keep the evil spirits out of the Year of the Dragon, look to your Dragon friends if you need to add a little spark to your wardrobe. Embrace the cultural differences between East and West and add a little zest to your home or adorn your body with some of these Dragon inspired items: