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Flag of BurmaChinese New Year, Yangon, Burma 2009

zodiac oxAlthough Chinese New Year is not an official holiday in Burma, signs of the festival are emerging everywhere. As expected, the most festive place in Yangon is Yangon Chinatown.

New Year banners put up across the street lanes and New Year ornaments for sale add a big dash of red to Yangon Chinatown.

Along the main street of Yangon Chinatown, shops and stalls prepare themselves for the Chinese New Year shopping crowd. The fruit stalls are full of mandarin oranges while candy stores and supermarket stock up a wide range of candies and even offer promotions.

The traditional Chinese pastry shops and stalls offer a popular Burmese Chinese sweet cakes (甜糕) made from either white or brown sugar that are consumed during the Chinese New Year. Another must have during the Chinese New Year is a box of 9 types of candies consumed during the Chinese New Year for good luck.

Temples such as Kheng Hock Keong and Cantonese Kwan Yin Temple are also decorated with lanterns and banners. Outside of Chinatown, the Fu Shan Si had begun preparing for a traditional gathering on the 15th night of the New Year.

Outside of Yangon Chinatown, almost all hotels are decorated with red lanterns, flowers and mandarin oranges to attract the Chinese New Year dining business. Supermarkets have New Year hampers and special Chinese New Year sales while fashion stores advertise early for the consumers to buy new clothes for the New Year.

During this period, inbound flights from the region such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are usually fully booked.  Many Chinese Burmese students and professionals working in the region return home to celebrate the New Year.

Even without a public holiday, the Chinese Burmese continue their countdown and prepare to welcome the year of the Ox.

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