The first day of Chinese New Year has always been celebrated pretty much the same way from year to year at our household. By the time the three of us kids (not so young anymore, but we're still kids in our parents' eyes) wake up, my mother would be busy frying the "nian gao". My mother cuts the nian gao into thin pieces, coats them in egg batter, and / or fries them together with sweet potato pieces. Yummy stuff!!! I love the sticky, chewy, crispy texture of fried nian gao.
Fireworks (although banned in Malaysia) and lion dance are a must during Chinese New Year. Some families in the neighbourhood pay for dance troupes to perform the lion dance to welcome in the new year, bringing the families good fortune. Fireworks and the sounds of the lion dance liven up the atmosphere.
We would have the TV on whilst eating fried nian gao. Almost every channel would air programmes relating to the Chinese New Year, so my sisters would channel surf until they see an interesting programme (it used to be just three channels, now with Channel 7, 8, and 9, and Astro, the possibilities are endless!).
Then comes tradition. The night before we would set up a table as a makeshift altar to pray to the gods and my late grandfather on New Year's Eve. The next morning, after breakfast, we would light some incense to put at the altar, and then we would have the tea ceremony. After pouring tea to the elders (in my case, my grandmother and my parents), they would give us a red packet "ang pow" as a symbol of good luck.
We would then set up the tea table laden with Chinese New Year titbits - some bought, some home-made, and wait for relatives and friends to call on us. That usually means more "ang pows" for us "kids". :P It's during Chinese New Year that we get to see relatives and friends whom we have not seen in a while, sit down and have a chat about the past year.
That's pretty much the first day... not very eventful, but for me, just perfect the way the day goes by, as long as I am at home, I am very happy. :)