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These Lego sets helped us open up about what Chinese New Year means today

Lego sent us two of their new Chinese New Year sets—the Story of Nian set and the Spring Lantern Festival set. So we decided to make a video of us building the sets and talk about what Chinese New Year means to the youth of today.

As a Malay Malaysian, I didn’t want to pursue this project through my perspective as I never really celebrated Chinese New Year. Sure, I could be gaining a lesson about a culture I didn’t understand from building CNY-themed Legos, but I wouldn’t feel like my own insight in the video would be—insightful, or as insightful as my co-workers: Nic, Ray, Rory, and Zac.

When I talked to them about what Chinese New Year meant to them, they were divided. Half of them embraced keeping the tradition of Chinese New Year, while the other half didn’t see the point of “keeping tradition for traditions sake”.

While producing the video, I was able to ask questions and learn about modern day Chinese New Year through my co-workers. I also sought help from Grace Chong—aka the Travelling Grandma as she helped explain Chinese myths and traditions through video call.

Lego’s two huge sets were built after a total of 10 or more hours in total. The smaller one—The Story of Nian—was built by Rory and Ray in four hours, whereas the bigger one—Spring Lantern Festival—was built by Nic and Zac (with the help of Ray and I at times) in about 6 hours plus.

During the shoot, my co-workers shared their experience and opinions about Chinese New Year. They also learnt about the myths and stories behind the sets they were building (through the research I’ve made, as well as through Grace Chong).

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As for the Lego sets themselves, they didn’t really give us the information we wanted. We had to look up what the Chinese characters on the sets mean, what each detail represents, what the Nian actually is, and the fact that the Spring Lantern Festival is not to be confused with the Lantern festival Malaysians celebrate (the Mid-Autumn Festival).

Lego did provide illustrations in their instruction pamphlets—to depict the “story” behind the sets. But it didn’t provide any other details other than a few very nice drawings.

The Story of Nian (80106) set costs RM329, and Spring Lantern Festival (80107) set costs RM459. You can also visit the Lego Malaysia Facebook page for more information on the Chinese New Year sets.

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Dzamira Dzafri