GONG XI FA CAI! Chinese New Year is finally here and Malaysians everywhere confirm looking forward to the celebrations. I know I am. Need more money and prosperity in my life la Y_Y Angpao and yee sang aside, celebrating Chinese New Year is all about celebrating family and traditions. That also means embracing your origins.
For the Chinese community in Malaysia, family surnames are a major part of their heritage as some even have 1st or 2nd generation immigrant relatives straight from the ‘Motherland’. Although surnames have been handed down from one generation to the next, have you ever asked yourself, ‘How did I get this name in the first place?’ or ‘Where did I really come from?’. If you’re having a mini existential crisis, don’t worry cause we’ve got you covered!
For all the Wongs, Teohs and Chans out there, read on to know where your surname originated from along with a few other names to boot. Some of you even got royal ancestors wey! *kowtow*
1. Wong, Wang, Ong, Bong, Teng
- Originates from the surname ‘Wang’ which carries the meaning of ‘king’ or ‘monarch’
- Most descendants of the Wang clan came from royal families
- Coined during the Shang and Zhou dynasty when royal family members adopted the surname Wang to hide their identities
- Notable figures in Chinese history include a Han Dynasty author/poet (Wang Bao) and Xin Dynasty emperor (Wang Mang)
2. Li, Lee, Lie
- Believed to originate from Li Lizhen who changed his name to the Chinese character that means ‘plum’ as a sign of thanks
- Lizhen and his mother fled into the wilderness to escape Emperor Zhou Xin and had to survive on plum fruits
- Notable historical figure with the Li surname is Li Er, better known as Lao-Tzu the Father of Taoism, and was consider the founder of the ‘Li’ surname
- Lao-Tzu was also believed to be an 11th generation descendant from none other than Li Lizhen
3. Chen, Chan, Chun, Chin, Tan
- Means ‘to exhibit’ and is also a reference to the state of Chen, known as modern day Huaiyang County in Henan Province
- During the Zhou Dynasty, Emperor Wu Wang searched for a descendant of the great ancient emperors to guard their memory and offer sacrifices
- He found Gui Man, a descendant of the legendary sage king Emperor Shun
- Gui Man was granted the state of Chen and the emperor’s daughter in marriage
- Gui Man was also bestowed the name ‘Chen Hugong‘ and his descendants came to adopt the surname
4. Huang, Wong, Ooi, Ng
- Carries the meaning ‘yellow’ and is also a reference to the territory of Huang in ancient China
- Said to be a minor vessel state during the Zhou Dynasty
- Most notable and revered Chinese emperor was Emperor Huang Di, nicknamed the ‘Father of the Chinese people’ and the ‘Yellow Emperor’
5. Zhang, Cheung, Chang, Teo, Teoh, Chong
- Origins date back to 4500 years ago
- Hui, the grandson of the legendary Yellow Emperor was inspired by the constellations to invent the bow and arrow
- Hui was bestowed the name ‘Zhang’ which comprises of the Chinese characters for ‘bow’ and ‘long’ to mean ‘stretch open a bow’ as recognition for his work
All of these names and many more are listed in the Bai Jia Xing, or the Hundred Family Surnames, a classic Chinese text composed during the early Song Dynasty. The text is a list of the common Chinese surnames adopted by Chinese families from around the world dating back to ancient China! ‘Why my name don’t have one?’ Don’t worry! If you’re curious to know more about your surname origins and celebrate this age-old heritage, here’s how you can finally find out this CNY!
From now until the 18th of February, Sunway Velocity Mall is hosting a Celebration of Legacies this Chinese New Year – inspired by none other than the Bai Jia Xing!
Malaysians of different surnames will be able to come together and celebrate this ancient Chinese heritage as a community. Don’t have a Chinese surname? Don’t worry about it as there’s lots of other activities for you to enjoy too:
- Performances such as lion dances, Chinese acrobatics, Chinese drum ensemble along with cultural performances from surrounding schools and universities
- Fun CNY-themed activities for kids and families alike such as lucky wind chime making sessions, lantern making sessions, cookie and cupcake decorating and many more
- A God of Prosperity who will be walking about and handing out goodies
- A chance to redeem a limited FREE personalised name calligraphy courtesy of Sunway Velocity Mall with the #NameoftheDay giveaway on the Sunway Velocity Mall Facebook page
Shoppers will also be able to redeem an All Seasons Prosperity AngPow set with a minimum spend of RM300 (RM200 for HSBC Credit Cardholders), a Reunion Dining Set with a minimum spend of RM600 (RM500 for HSBC Credit Cardholders) and a chance to Spin The Wheel of Fortune with a minimum spend of RM1,500 (RM1,400 for HSBC Credit Cardholders) to redeem a gold coin.
Wanna find out more about this event? Check it out here. Just don’t forget to jio us too!