It takes so many decades for me to realise we celebrate 15 days of Chinese New Year! In Singapore, we celebrate the Eve with a reunion dinner, and then it is public holidays for the first and second day, but my family usually celebrates even the third day. Followed by the one or two weekends after. That is from the practical point of view. When I lived in China, we celebrated it as the Golden Week, which I never really counted how many days but assumed it was Seven (because seven days in a week, right?), as I was mostly bogged down by deciphering which days my team was supposed to be at work. Then again, I was never in China for CNY. Heehee.
It was brought to my attention only because a friend celebrating her birthday said she will celebrate for 15 days since CNY lasts for 15 days. Hahaha, funny logic, but that’s besides the point, and she could have celebrated her birthmonth which is what I have always been doing. 😀
Now that I pay more attention to it, that is true – we are so busy everyday of the first 15days, there is always something on the task list. New Moon to Full Moon. Eve = reunion dinner; Days 1 and 2 = visiting; Day 3 = start of work calendar with all the rituals of setting up oranges and red packets in office; Day 4 = recover from overeating; Day 5 = receive Fortune Deity (this is iffy, seems to apply only in China); Day 6 = recover; Day 7 = Everybody’s birthday; Day 8 / 9 = we count down to the 9th day and have offerings and prayers (it’s a very big deal, my mom goes temple-hopping); Days 10-14 = I don’t know and we don’t follow… hehe… other then that one day we have to check the auspicious hour for depositing money; Day 15 = glutinous rice balls in sweet soup / possibly my favourite day of CNY. This fifteenth day is called yuan xiao, which falls on the first full moon of the year, and we eat rice balls for 团团圆圆 (tuan tuan yuan yuan), literally meaning lumps of rounds but the more poetic meaning being one of reunion (团圆).
Makes me wonder why reunion is such a big deal in our culture. The ancestors must have gone through lots of wars and/or hardship. Or maybe it is really the venturing out to afar to make a living beyond the hard lives back home. Shrugs, this just calls home to the people who cannot make it back to be with their families. Particularly in this period when there is mass quarantine in so many cities (even though I fully totally completely support the quarantines at this scale), my heart goes out to everyone of you.
This year has been quiet. We still had our huge extended family reunion on the first day, but the numbers are dwindling, we only have like 50 or 60% attendance this year (because of personal priorities, not because of the outbreak 🙂 ). My very lucky cousin escaped the whole episode as he had to come back two weeks earlier for his national service, and now he need not go back to Shanghai (yay!).
Normally, our home will be filled with the aroma of steamboat and bahkwa (grilled pork jerky), but this year, nothing. We had steamboat for the first two days – really good broth with fish, thinly sliced pork, assorted seafood and vegetables – and that was it. A good friend brought me a tin of absolutely yummy pineapple tarts which I am allergic to every ingredient in it, but still ate them up!!! Guess that was that. We used to have all kinds of snacks around the house – egg rolls, prawn crackers, prawn rolls, all kinds of cookies that melt in the mouth. But nothing this year! Guess these are the kind of food that make us “heaty” (Chinese health terms.. heh) and people start falling sick from eating too much junk. And we cannot afford to fall sick at this crucial time! For fear of being ostracized, really. I myself glare at people who still appear in public (without masks, especially) when they are sick and should well be staying home.
Normally, this time of the year (or even all through the year), the malls would be bustling, and there would be all sorts of events like lion dance performances, fortune deity throwing ingots, and what-nots. This year, the malls are quiet, and people are just looking for masks and sanitizers. 😦 Or maybe because that is my focus now, and hence, I am surrounded by fellow compatriots looking for masks and sanitizers. 😮 It is shockingly quiet, my parents say even Chinatown is quiet. Gasp! It is surreal, and I am only in Singapore. So quiet you can hear a pin drop… or a person quietly trying to stifle a cough.
Alright, enough of heavy thoughts. Here is something more lighthearted to celebrate Chinese-ness this CNY. 😀 Hope You Get Rich!