During Chinese Festive Season, cookies are often given as gifts as they are sweet and auspicious

Chinese New Year has just passed. We have enjoyed the festive season of sending out well wishes to family and friends all over the world. How were your Chinese New Year celebrations?

Growing up in Malaysia, Chinese New Year was one of the most important festive celebrations for our family.  Making the new year cookies for the ‘new year’ is an important part of the festivity; however, making sure we have allocated some of the home-made sweets to our elderly or senior members of families and friends was also on the “important” list.

For example, one of the sweets we made is Kuih Bangkit (Tapioca cookies). We would normally make about 20 containers of the Kuih Bangkit every year and share them among our immediate families. At the same time, other close families and friends would be “looking forward” to receiving the cookies during this time of the year as well, and they would reciprocate with other types of sweets or fruits, such as mandarins.

The ritual of gifting during Chinese New Year was very common during my time growing up in Penang among friends and families. During this festive period, many relatives would be visiting each other prior to the new year, bringing fruits, homemade cookies, or other delicacies for families and friends.

However, for families who move overseas, does the ritual of gifting still prevail, and if so, can it be sustained?

Are you still gifting families and friends your home-made cookies or delicacies? If so, did you make it yourself or did you buy or purchase it from bakeries? What do you gift your friends? Was it easily accessible over here in your adopted country?

For me personally, when we moved overseas, the ritual of home baked sweets and cakes for festivity became less important.

These could be the reasons as to why this is so.

  • I believe the number one constraint would be TIME! The labor-intensive cakes and sweets making that I grew up with would be a tough act to follow.
  • We may not have the proper knowledge of how to make those cakes and cookies from scratch.
  • We may not be able to get the raw ingredients to recreate the cookies/delicacies.

Having said that, I still try to practice in a small way to keep the new year gifting alive by making some cookies and cakes that I grew up with for a few relatives and friends. And it is really nice to see a few friends keeping up with the ritual of gifting by dropping off some new year cookies and cakes over at my place.

I would love to see the revival of our childhood home-made cookies – the fun of making them at our own home to celebrate with family and friends. However, I do acknowledge the challenges above.

Would love to hear your thoughts!!!