Today is the third day of Chinese New Year. There were so many greetings being sent through Facebook, New Year cards, e-mails and mostly via phones for those celebrating. I spent the whole of yesterday and the day before calling my relatives far and near to wish them a happy and healthy year of the snake.
On Chinese New Year’s eve, we had steamboat for our family re-union dinner. This is a time for everyone to go home, get connected with the relatives and traditions, and be reminded of their values, but primarily to spend the festivity together. One of my friends had an open house on that day so she could invite all the friends who did not have extended families around to share the festivity together.
I remembered when I was younger, my grandmother and mother would start preparing all the Chinese New Year cakes and cookies a few months before the day; several of our aunties and cousins would join us during the weekends to help out with the preparations as well.
Weeks before, the spring cleaning would start. Everyone had to chip in to start dusting all the cupboards and other places of the house that had only been cleaned once a year; cushion covers and curtains had to be washed, all the wooden chairs and tables polished… there were never-ending chores. If you were the host for the reunion, extra beds, pillows and bed sheets had to be washed and readied for all visiting relatives who would be bunking at your place. It was a FUN time with all the relatives and cousins sharing the festivities together.
On Chinese New Year’s eve, all the children from the neighbourhood gathered outside their homes, getting ready for the fireworks at midnight to greet the New Year. I could still remember the laughter among us kids, and the beauty and sound of our fireworks. The adults would often join us, exchanging greetings to welcome the New Year.
We spent the last 2 weeks in Taiwan and Hong Kong celebrating the festivity with my parents and sister. My parents decided to forgo the celebration in Malaysia this year and celebrate with us in Taiwan instead. My Mum made all the New Year cookies and carried all the way to Taiwan. We had a big feast there, exchanging red packets and gifts. Later we travelled to Hong Kong to celebrate and soak up the festive atmosphere. I brought back some of the cookies to Sydny and had them here with the family yesterday.
That’s the closest my children would ever experience Chinese New Year, as most of the time they would not be able to head back to Asia as the school term would have already started.
If opportunity arises, share your traditions with your children and re-connect to your roots. Introduce your children to the food, culture, values that you used to have when you were a child. Share with them how the traditional food is prepared. It is a great way to connect to who you are as a person. The experience will also give your child a chance to better understand who you are…..your childhood, the traditions that you were brought up with!
Happy Chinese New Year to all the families who are celebrating the festivity.