Tag Archives: malaysian


Description: It is the tossing of fish salad done during the New Years. People would circle around with chopsticks in hand. Then they would throw the salad as high as they are able, the higher meaning better fortune for the next year and having your wishes come true. The fish is the most important part due to the pun of the Chinese word for fish sounding like the word for abundance.

Background: It is something commonly done within her household. I was able to observe this ritual when we did it with a group of friends.


The salad is prepared with sauces, assorted vegetables and most importantly fish. The dish will then be presented on a table where people would gather. Each participant will be equipped with a pair of chopsticks. When the ritual begins, each participant will toss the contents as high as they can while saying their wishes. The duration of the ritual varies. At the end, the salad is consumed like a normal meal.

My thoughts:

In terms of cuisine, the salad is delicious. While the tossing does tend to make a mess, the sense of community and energy it brings is well worth it. There are many elements of this tradition that I believe are very neat. One thing is the origin of the tradition. It is mainly practiced by people who are ethnically Chinese living in Singapore or Malaysian. Most of the wordplay originated from the Chinese language, the fish signifying abundance is well known to any one who is Chinese. This tradition creates a branching and unique identity that separates itself from the traditions of the mainland and Taiwan. Food is commonly seen as something that brings people together; sharing food is often a bonding experience especially with home made cuisine. The community aspect is especially true for those in Malaysia, where ethnically Chinese people are part of the minority.

Ghosts in Banana Trees in Malaysia


Informant reported that their mother told them, “Don’t hang near the banana trees in Malaysia because ghosts live there.” Their mother grew up there and heard it from her Aunts. She describes the origin of this piece of folklore as having come about due to the amount of plantations in Malaysia, therefore people created this story to ward kids off of them, as they would play near the trees.


Informant is a secondary receiver of the folklore, whereas their mother experienced this in action — she would be taken near plantations and told not to stick around, while my informant only received the warning when about to go outside and play with other friends. It was less of a warning while in Malaysia, but rather a general warning before going outside.


I think this is an interesting anecdote that had to have started way back when, perhaps when children were hanging out too much in Malaysian plantations. It could have started due to malicious circumstances with a landowner getting fed up with children stealing from the plantation and therefore killing him, or it could be more lighthearted than that. I think a lot of different cultures have sayings such as these.

I did some research and found something called the “pontianak,” which is a female vampire ghost in Malay mythology. These are said to be spirits of women who died while pregnant, and my informant thinks this saying about Malaysian banana trees has roots with this mythical figure. Further reading can be done at the citation below:

Skeat, W.W. Malay Magic. New York, Macmillan and Co. Ltd, 1900. Print.