Christmas is still in its 9th day, but by now, my true love is probably a little flabbergasted that shops, malls, toilets(piped-in) has already switched to the upbeat waifs of Lunar New Year music. In an instant, we’ve gone from the soothing melodies of Rudolf to the seemingly never-ending remix of Fortune, Longevity and Prosperity. Now with techno version even. One wonders if Micheal Buble will one day tap come to a rude awakening and cut an album to gain a slice of the pie in this genre of choice. I can just imagine the album cover littered with lanterns, red, lions and dragons and Buble himself, complete with the customary hand gesture.
Until that day arrives, I began to re-examine some of the customs and traditions that we, Chinese folks, partake in year by year, and often, just because our great grand-folks did it as well. Admittedly, and after so many years of blind faith to these practices, I am still in the dark and clueless as to why certain traditions are carried out during the Lunar New Year. Hence, the inspiration to create a post dedicated to it. Without sounding too philosophical, perhaps, my intentions to write this is a subtle reminder in carrying on these traditions, and yet perhaps, it is also a method to pass it on to the next generation which I find slowly but surely, losing their sense of identity and culture to Playstation Portables and Ipads. If you ask me, they ought to be banned during the Lunar New Year periods…so here goes(and with a little help from wikipedia).
Red packets or hongbaos – (红包); Hokkien: ‘ang pow’ are passed out from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. Red packets are also known as 壓歲錢/压岁钱 (Ya Sui Qian, which was evolved from 壓祟錢/压祟钱, literally, the money used to suppress or put down the evil spirit ) during this period. Red packets almost always contain money, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred. Should be in even numbers as well. As I’m officially not married yet, I’m entitled to receive, however it is sadly dwindling as I get older. 😛
Nian huo or gifts – I didn’t start doing this until I met my soon-to-be wife. It simply involves the act of giving gifts of cookies, kumquats, candies usually between in-laws, friends, and relatives. I guess its a nice g
esture for building relationships and bonding.
Firecrackers – banned since 1970 in Singapore. But I made up for it while living in the US, purchasing boxes upon boxes of the stuff and setting them off like some pyro-maniac. What I understand is that it was used in ancient China to drive away evil spirits. Maybe in modern times, we can use them to chase away fat cat politicians, bankers, and all other greedy folks who f**k the world up? Hmm…
New clothes – preferably in colour red or bright colours. Commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year because it was once believed that red could scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. In addition, people typically wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolize a new beginning in the new year. Wearing new clothes also symbolizes having more than enough things to use and wear in the new year. Nuts!!!! Just gave the wife another excuse to shop!!!
Fú (福) – meaning “good fortune” or “happiness” is represented both as a Chinese ideograph, but also at times, pictorially. You see them commonly mounted on the entrances of homes…but bet you didn’t know why it’s upside down yes? Well…I didn’t, until now. The reason ‘why’ is based on a wordplay: in nearly all varieties of Chinese: the words for “upside-down” and “to arrive” are homophonous or nearly homophonous. Therefore, the phrase an “upside-down Fú” sounds either identical or nearly identical to the phrase “Good luck arrives”. Pasting the character upside-down on a door or doorpost thus translates into a wish for prosperity to descend upon a dwelling. Chinese people are weird.
Sweeping the floor during the festive period – TABOO!!!!! DO NOT EVEN ATTEMPT. I got hit on the head once for doing it, and apparently it sweeps away all the good luck. Again, Chinese people are weird.
Foods – find it here
KENREISHI Reishi – significance….health, longevity, heck! just purchase a box today here!
Chinese people. We’re not only weird. We’re shameless as heck as well. hahahaha. HUAT AH!!!!