According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, today is 立春 or li chun, which marks the start of the Lunar New Year. Officially we are already in the Year of the Monkey. However, Chinese worldwide will only celebrate Chinese New Year on 8 February.
Chinese New Year mood has been drummed up since the end of December with festive songs being played in shops and malls, on radio and TV. Retailers have started selling various items to celebrate the spring festival.
The festive mood is heightened as shopping malls put up decorations to welcome the Year of The Monkey. This year, I managed to visit only a few malls around PJ to capture the festivity. I felt that this year’s decorations lacked the creativity and imagination of past years, perhaps due to cost cutting in anticipation of a slowing economy.
1-Utama Shopping Centre’s Oval Concourse is turned into a red floral garden in line with its ‘A Time To Flourish’ theme. The whole concourse is filled with bright and celebratory colours reflecting the vivacious spirit of spring.
The mood is enhanced with colourful honeycomb paper lanterns hanging on real bamboo placed strategically in the concourse. Giant peonies and flowers signify that spring has arrived.
Tall oriental style wooden towers with jewel tassels serve as kiosks selling a wide variety of Chinese New Year goodies to entice shoppers.
Lanterns made from giant peonies and jewel tassels hang all over the mall adding to the spirit of spring.
At the Curve, a serene bamboo and cherry tree garden setting awaits shoppers at its centre court. Red lanterns added to the charm of the whole setting.
The decoration is really simple and minimal with ample space as it’s needed for the show performed by an acrobatic troupe from Shanghai. Apart from the acrobatic show, other performances lined up are Master of Masks face-changing, lion dance and the Chinese Ensemble and Melodies of the Orient orchestra.
I managed to catch the God of Prosperity (财神) spreading his ‘prosperity’ to shoppers during my visit.
Atria Shopping Gallery, a new kid on the block to the retail scene in PJ also put up simple decorations to usher in the Year of the Red Fire Monkey. The chandelier of lights and red lanterns hanging from its tall ceiling adds some grandeur to the décor.
Similar to The Curve, it’s also set in a garden setting complete with a Chinese pavilion and even a wishing tree. Unlike other malls, the kiosks in Atria are located on the Concourse floor while the decoration is located on the Ground floor.
Shoppers to Paradigm Mall are taken ‘A Walk Down Memory Lane’ (新春舊時光) to the scene of Chinese New Year celebration in the 70s complete with streets filled with red lanterns.
The Upper Atrium of the shopping mall is transformed into streets from a bygone era complete with shop lots with wooden louvre windows, washed off paint covering the walls and carved wooden signboards.
Items like trishaws, old fashioned bicycles and bird cages hanging from the shop lot windows makes one feel like being transported back in time.
As this is a street with shop lots, it’s only apt that they sell goods targeted at shoppers preparing to usher in the Year of the Monkey.
I also visited Petaling Street, a.k.a. Chinatown, to check out the festive mood in this popular street. The shopping streets are all decked up to celebrate the spring festival and entice shoppers.
New bright round and elongated red lanterns are seen everywhere along the main shopping streets. The lanterns are most likely sponsored by Loong Kee (龍記), a company that specialises in barbequed dried meat which is a popular item for the festivity.
Shoppers were busy with their shopping to celebrate the spring festival from decorative items for the home to food items such as waxed duck meat, pork sausages, glutinous rice cake (年糕) and cookies.
As the monkey swings in, may the year of the Monkey bring you and your loved ones health, peace, prosperity and abundant joy throughout the year.