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Wednesday
Feb212007

Chinese New Year 2007/ Roots

Chinese New Year

We are now getting into the 4th day of Chinese New Year (CNY) CNY is traditionally 15 days long but nobody celebrates that long these days. However, I believe certain days are special. For example;

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The Reunion
There's the all important day before the New Year, the Eve, whereby the family will observe a reunion. For many years now, we have been having Reunion Lunch instead of Dinner. We found it more convenient to do so. My parents really look forward to this day whereby the whole family gathers. We each contributes a dish or two thus reducing Mum's burden of having to cook everything.  

Then, there's the 1st day of CNY. We will visit relatives and catch up. There's, of course, some protocols which we must observe. The younger relatives will visit the older ones bringing little gifts of mandarin oranges, packets of groundnuts and sweets or candies. These all have significance which some, yours truly knows and some others, I don't. They will then return some gifts as well. Of late, Andrew and I discovered that our list of relative to visit have shortened. And about 2 years ago, we realised that we have been upgraded to 'older relatives' status.

So we set aside the 2nd day to receive guests at home. Traditionally, the family was supposed to stay at home the entire 1st day, have a 'open the new year' lunch on the 2nd day and then everybody will be allowed to go out. But of course, not many observe this tradition anymore. But the 'open the new year' lunch is still observed. I suspect it's so because it involves food. Any reason or excuse to dig in.

The 7th day of CNY is supposed to be everybody's birthday and it's celebrated with the colourful raw fish dish (yee sang) But these days, yee sang is served even before CNY. The Hokkiens observed the 9th day as an important day. I am not sure but I believe that was the day they were liberated from some tyranny.

After that, no more important days till the 15th. That's Chap Goh Mei, the final day of CNY. I think this is supposed to be the Chinese Valentine's day. In Penang, unmarried ladies throw oranges somewhere, sea? river? Excuse my blur-ness. This is supposed to bring them husbands but I suspect it probably began with mothers trying to get their daughters to throw away rotting oranges. What better way to get them to do it willingly with a story like that?

Roots 

Prompted by Tabby's blog regarding how Chinese she is, I thought about how Chinese am I.

When I was younger, I often heard stories from my dad that he may not be entirely Chinese. He found out that he was adopted and when he found his biological mother, she did not want to disclose his father's identity. Then, dad did some digging and found out that my biological grandfather could be a Japanese soldier. That makes me partially Japanese! BUT I bear resemblance to my supposedly adopted grandmother which makes the fact that my dad was adopted not true at all. Dad has always been a good story teller. He can spin a yarn, interlacing it with reality and fantasy. One can never quite tell where one ends and the other begins.  

Mum's roots are more clear cut. She came from Penang.She's the youngest in the family of 7. In those days, giving away your children when you have one too many was common. Mum was given away to friends of my biological grandparents in Penang. But she maintained contact with her family in Penang till this day. There's absolutely no question of my link with this family. I bear resemblance to them and even share the same disease, diabetes. All my aunts and uncles have it and most of my cousins too.

I have absolutely no idea where my great-grandparents came from, what they did etc. It will be interesting to, one day, make a study and investigate further.  

 

Reader Comments (1)

Gong Hei Fatt CHoy!
February 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterpL

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