Jan 2020 - Chinese New Year Celebrations

ENAK! Chinese New Year Celebrations, January 30th, 2020

Hosted by Jane Bircher and Rosemary Chin

It was an AWESOME January Enak! - Chinese New Year Celebrations and the Tossing of the Good Luck Salad for the Year of the Metal Rat.


24 Enakkers met at our gracious host Jane Bircher’s house and had a joyous gathering tossing the Yee Sang, the CNY Good Luck Salad. It was such a pleasure to see everyone don either their favourite cheongsam or dress festively in shades of red, pink and orange which blended perfectly against a backdrop of red lanterns, tablecloths and CNY decor. This contributed even more to the festive mood and high spirits that prevailed throughout the lunch.








The CNY celebration lunch was a treat for all!  How special it was for those who had never experienced tossing the Yee Sang high into the air whilst simultaneously calling out auspicious wishes to usher in good luck and prosperity for the year ahead.  Indeed nothing brings family and friends together more than tossing the good luck salad at this time of year. It’s one of those rare occasions when playing with your food is acceptable and indeed encouraged. Making a mess with the CNY salad is applauded as it is believed that the higher and more vigorous the toss, the better the blessings for the New Year!


But what is the history of the Yee Sang?


It is believed by many Malaysians that the Yee Sang originated in the 1940s in a restaurant in Seremban called Loke Ching Kee, run by a man called Loke Ching Fatt. In order to expand his catering business, he set about adapting a Cantonese recipe - the result was the Yee Sang and it was an instant hit! 


It must also be acknowledged that there is also a claim that it was created in the 1960s in Singapore by chefs Lau Yoke Pui, Tham Yui Kai, Sin Leong and Hooi Kok Wai, who together are known as the "Four Heavenly Kings" in the Singapore restaurant scene. 


The current form of Yee Sang is only practiced in Malaysia and Singapore.


Hotels and restaurants also serve Yee Sang for this annual gastronomical tradition. The experience is not to be missed. It is a communal thing and most companies, groups of friends and family have a lot of fun with Yee Sang. The salad itself is delicious with the right balance of sweet, tangy, savoury, and crunch. Today, it is readily available even before the festivities officially begin and continues right through to Chap Goh Mei, the fifteenth and last day of the Chinese New Year. There are even pre-packed 'salads' available in supermarkets. 


Rosemary Chin provided an overview as to the origins of the Yee Sang and was supported by one of our new Enakkers Patricia Chia who shared with us the Loh Hei process.  Pam Currie supplemented the information by providing a short summary of the symbolism of each of the ingredients.

For example:

  • RAW FISH: Nin nin yao yu, May you always have more than enough

  • LEMON/LIME: Dai kat dai lei, Wishing you an abundance of good luck

  • PEPPER AND CINNAMON POWDER: Choi yuen kwong zhun, May you always be healthy and youthful

  • OIL: Soon soon lei lei, May everything go smoothly and successfully

  • PLUM SAUCE: Tim tim mat mat, May your life be blessed with sweetness

  • GROUND PEANUTS AND SESAME SEEDS: Kam yuk moon thong, May your house be filled with gold and jade

  • CRACKERS: Mun dei wong kam, May there be wealth and prosperity everywhere around you


We enjoyed a vegetarian version of the Yee Sang and fun was had by all.  Judging by the height it was tossed to and the ensuing mess that resulted all Enakkers will enjoy a year abundant in good luck and prosperity!

Xie Xie to the celebrating community of Enak for providing the ‘YEE SANG’ for the Lucky Salad Toss and the CNY delicacies and also to well-wishers for other contributions. Thanks also to Ming Goh and Sue Atkinson for offering help with the decor with their ‘magic hands’, to Angela Scharer for the stunning flowers. 

What a delicious spread of colour, festive fun and good company! And what a wonderful way to begin the Lunar Year!



Submitted by Jane Bircher and Rosemary Chin

Photos by Rosemary Chin and Gloria Chang


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yusheng

  • https://cilisos.my/the-chinese-didnt-invent-cny-yee-sang-this-seremban-man-did/

  • https://www.buro247.my/lifestyle/buro-loves/what-to-say-for-yee-sang-ritual-video.html