Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Lunar New Year of the Dog - 2018

Soon after Christmas 2017, came New Year 2018 and now, Chinese Lunar New Year is just two days away.

Wow!, three festivals in two months. It must be a hectic month for both cabbies and revellers.

I'm not driving anymore but my buddy told me that JustGrab jobs were plentiful, with thousands of shoppers thronging the ubiquitous shopping malls and everywhere in Singapore. However, he lamented that it could have been better for him if not for the recent UberFlash that competed directly with JustGrab.

His JustGrab's booking had dropped a bit recently but he was not short of customers. But for how long? He hopes the status quo would not change too drastically but stabilises at an equivalence between Grab and Uber.

Now, how do I celebrate Chinese New Year?.

Briefly, like most Chinese Singaporean of my age, CNY to me is like an ordinary day. The halcyon days of joyful excitement, fun and frolic in celebrating CNY had long dissipated.

To me, it's now more a financial burden than anything else. Giving "any pow" (red envelopes filled with money) to unmarried juniors, buying goodies, decorative materials, new clothing and food for feasting, drill a big hole in my pocket. But I still pour money generously to prepare a lavish reunion dinner for my family on New Year Eve. 

I consider it's the most important event of the year, similar to a Christmas dinner.

Usually, my family will have a seafood steam-boat dinner with the more expensive items like abalone, lobster, oyster, scallops, crab and pomfret fish. If leftover of wine from last year feasting is available, I'll have a few glass of it with my grown up children and wife.

Before the big day, I cleaned up my flat, sweeping away all ill fortune and decorated it with red couplets in the popular theme of prosperity and happiness.

On the first day of CNY, I would visit my mother-in-law and close friends, followed by rounds of mahjong games with my taxi buddies till daybreak.

With both parents gone and being the eldest of 8 siblings, my siblings with spouses and offsprings would visit me on the second day of CNY. Though we hardly see each other on the other 365 days, they would surely pay me a visit on this day without fail.  This tradition of home visitings has been going on in our family for the last 30 years.

Like my reunion dinner, I splurge a sumptuous lunch and dinner for them. My sixty plus relatives would spend the whole day in my apartment, often creating a "ruckus", eating, KTV singing, watching movies and gambling. 

The joy in seeing my extended family tightly knit together and growing are worth more than the money I splurged for this occasion.

This visiting ritual is part of the Chinese culture similar to Malays and Indian culture. It's important to pass this tradition down to each generation and not to put it on the burner. 

Another Chinese tradition that should be promoted is the "Ching Ming" festival, (Remembrance of Ancestor Day), a day when the living pays their respect to the dead ancestors. It's an extension of the CNY visiting, albeit visiting the dead.

The only activity that I missed about CNY of today is the playing with firecrackers. 

As a teenager, I play the cheaper type of firecrackers that are bonded in a long roll with 2 or more extending out at each level.

I remember dislodging a single piece from the string and placing it under an open condensed milk tin. With one hand pressing hard on one ear and the other hand igniting the firecracker with a lighted joss stick timidly, the thrill and trepidation of a sudden explosion were beyond description. Upon exploding, the tin would fly high into the sky like a space capsule and falls back, crushing like a fallen.......tin.

As a naughty kid, I would indiscriminately throw a lighted firecracker at unsuspecting siblings or friends and ran away laughing at their fright.

Nowadays, I hear only fake noises of firecrackers from recordings and see dummy crackers serving as doorway decorations. These come nothing close to the real ones.

Firecrackers were banned in Singapore in 1967, due to many fire and fatal accidents. The joy that comes from playing with it was then gone forever and I felt privileged to have enjoyed the cheap thrills of good old days.

Nonetheless, some loving parents bring their family to neighbouring regions like Batam (Indonesia) and Johore (W.Malaysia) that allows playing of firecrackers to enjoy the thrills of a traditional CNY activity.

May I use this opportunity to wish all my Chinese readers,

"A Happy, Healthy and Prosperpous 
Lunar New Year of the Dog -  2018"

1 comment:

darren rowse said...
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