What says diversity more than Malaysia’s unique melting pot of cultures and habits? Everyone has their own quirky little traditions, but some of the wackiest of the bunch are usually done in the name of one important thing—prosperity.
The timing is truly right to talk about this. Since McDonald’s yearly-anticipated comeback kid has rolled back into restaurants (and our stomachs) with a golden update for some time now, and the word ‘prosperity’ is on everybody’s minds.
So we surveyed Malaysians from all walks of life because we are curious about the strange things that they do in the name of prosperity. The results truly had us in stitches. We cherry-picked the best 7.
1. Carrying Dust Out Of The House Instead Of Sweeping It Out
Cleaning the house can be made more difficult in some households thanks to a superstition.
It is said that sweeping dirt and dust out of your house by the front entrance is to sweep away the good fortune of the family. We know this because there are a couple of stories about decidedly not superstitious children getting nagged at by their put-upon mothers when they pick up the broom to help out with the chores.
Instead, the dust must be swept into the house, and then carried out to avoid harm. One of the storytellers even told us about how she found this process of carrying the sweepings out from the middle of the house a hassle. But if she didn’t do it her poor mother would do the sweeping instead, and that would make her aching back worse.
“You can’t help it I guess. She is a perfectionist, but boy, the things we do for love,” the girl said.
2. Crack A Red Egg On Someone’s Head
This particular one applies more to the Hokkien-Chinese in Malaysia. A red egg that symbolises reproduction and growth is smacked onto the head of a Hokkien person—on their birthday.
Apparently eating the egg is optional.
And this tradition is whacked out to all, even if they are young and tender. As one can imagine, it is somewhat of a spectacle for family and friends to gather around and watch as the egg is smashed against a child’s head.
We guess that’s one way to bring the family together. Maybe some consider it as a valuable video opportunity to show the kids when they are older.
3. Rolling A Pineapple Into A New House
The Chinese are rich in abundance of symbolism in their food, and one among this is the humble pineapple. The word Pineapple (凤梨; fènglí) can refer to wealth, luck, and excellent fortune. It is also known as 黃梨: Huang Li (in Mandarin) or Wong Lai (in Cantonese) or Ong Lai (in Hokkien).
So both Singapore and Malaysia, you have individuals who roll a pineapple into a new home, while saying auspicious phrases to usher prosperity into their new home.
On top of fruit-bowling, feng shui followers even keep little statues of pineapples on their cabinets (bonus points if it’s made of gold) to bring in good luck and prosperity.
4. Keeping A Fishy Friend (Or Several)
If some of you have ever wondered about why certain restaurants kept a fish tank with nothing else in it but a single big fish in it, now you know.
Besides helping to balance out the feng shui of a place by including the very necessary element of water, fishes are thought to bring good luck. This is in part related to the idiom “年年有余” (nian nian you yu), with the last word, “yu” sounding similar to fish. 年年有余 roughly translates to “Having abundance/surplus every year”.
The more popular fishes to keep for prosperity in Malaysia include koi (carps), the Arowana fish, the ever-interesting Flower Horn fish, and even the humble goldfish.
For koi in particular, they’re associated with success due to an old story. According to legend, if they swim up a waterfall at a certain location and make a final leap over, ascending this Dragon’s Gate will allow them to transform into magnificent dragons. This tale of perseverance and transformation certainly resonates with many Asians, who keep the koi as a reminder and symbol of coming triumph.
5. No Shaking Your Leg
Malaysians believe in this more as a hindrance than an actual peculiarity, but there is one interesting story that drew our attention.
A youthful lad by the name of Lucky (not his real name) decided to take over his family business to allow his aging father to retire. So he sat in a chair at home to worry about it, shaking his leg in anxiousness. That is when his grandmother warned him that his nervous habit is shaking away the family’s prosperity.
It hit Lucky then, that his nervous habit not only potentially put a dent in his family’s finances, but disturbed the staff’s money pots as well. So Lucky actually managed to discipline himself to stop his leg-shaking, for the sake of protecting everyone in his company.
Now, he bites his nails instead when he is nervous.
His family’s business did eventually turn back around. But whether it did because of Lucky’s habit or not, you will not find him shaking his leg ever again.
6. Picking The Right Numbers
Did you know that there has been a secret number puzzle among races that has been complementing each other all along?
Everyone knows that 4 refers to death to the Chinese, and that 8 is linked to prosperity. Most of us know that the sound of 8 being spoken aloud (ba) sounds like fa, which is prosperity. However, it’s not just the sound.
The shape of the figure 8 is thought to showcase a pleasing symmetry. It’s all about the yin and yang, and the perfect balance of the number 8 that mirrors itself whether vertically or horizontally is also part of the reason for its popularity.
Even though Chinese-Malaysians find the number 8 as positive, Indian-Malaysians do not think so. According to the numerologists, the number 8 is ruled by the goddess of misfortune Shani, so they are more than happy to pass on the 8-related numbers.
Meanwhile with some superstitions, the number 4 is actually considered good as it looks like a man who is crossing his legs like a boss. And bosses sure are prosperous.
So, a wonderful symbiosis occurs where certain buyers are happy to take the 4’s that the Chinese wouldn’t, while the Chinese will take on the number 8 that the Indians wouldn’t.
7. Dyeing Hair Red
Talk about taking the concept of ‘huat’ to a whole new level.
Even some hair salons take the opportunity to coax customers to dye their hair red for good luck.
This might just be a good excuse for some wild-haired youth to appear at home on Chinese New Year without pissing off their parents too much.
Prospering Shiny And Golden With Prosperity Burger
Malaysians of all races have always anticipated the limited-edition addition to McDonalds’ menu every year with growling stomachs. It has been a uniting factor in Malaysia for generations, and is now part of the unique Malaysian culture.
Going 24 years and counting, McDonald’s Prosperity Burger certainly has become a staple in Malaysian’s minds.
This year, McDonald’s came up with the idea of adding a decadent crunchy golden-brown element to their annually-awaited Prosperity Burger—the golden Hash Brown.
They call it the Golden Prosperity Burger, simply because gold equals to more prosperity.
Long-time fans can still enjoy the taste of Prosperity Burger in either chicken or beef, paired with the always popular twister fries and refreshing Prosperity McFizz.
If you’re thinking of tasting the Prosperity with a group of friends, McDonald’s delivery offers a scrumptious combo meal that helps you save about RM15 to share.
For dessert lovers, McDonald’s serves up some prosperous red delicacies with either the delicious Red Bean, or refreshing Lychee. These desserts will be available for a limited time only.
If you’re looking to have something warm, a cup of latte with a Prosperity Blossom cake might just be the treat for the moment.
Not just your life, but your dining table (and plate) can now be filled with Prosperity as we gear up to usher in the Year of The Rooster.
This article was brought to you by McDonalds.