It’s the year of the horse 2014 this Chinese New Year (CNY). Every year, in January or February, the Chinese would celebrate the lunar new year by spring cleaning the house and having a reunion dinner on new year’s eve followed by visitation on the first and second day of the new year, where those who are still single (usually the kids) get red packets which we call “ang paos/hong bao”. These red packets contain money (new bank notes), which signifies the start of a new year. The reason behind the colour red is a traditional story about a beast which went around tormenting the villagers. It was found that the beasts was afraid of the colour red. Hence, dragons and lion dancers dressed in red used loud drums to scare away these beasts and to ward off any bad luck. Red scrolls or pieces of paper are hung on the door to prevent the beasts from entering. For a better summary of what Chinese New year is all about, read this article.
It is common to bring a pair of mandarin oranges when we visit, as oranges symbolises prosperity, and we usually say phrases like 新年快乐 (xin nian kuai le), 恭喜发财 (gong xi fa cai), 万事如意 (wan shi ru yi), 年年有鱼 (nian nian you yu), 身体健康 (shen ti jian kang). This year is a very special one because it’s the Chinese zodiac year of the horse i.e. the year of the animal I’m born in. According to the Chinese, there are twelve zodiac animals (will explain in detail in my next entry). I got to celebrate my 24th birthday which falls on the seventh day of the lunar new year as well. Birthday, CNY, and the year of the horse. Triple threat. (: Sadly I didn’t get triple my angpao ): Haha, but anyway, this year’s festivities didn’t hit me. It just didn’t feel like Chinese new year. The atmosphere wasn’t there. It sure feels strange that most places are closed, and those that are open, are manned by Malays, Indians and other races.
On the first day of CNY (初一), my family went to visit my grandmother and grandfather. On the second day of CNY (we call it 初二), my relatives came over to my house and we played black jack. Lost quite a bit of money but never mind. My good childhood friend came over to celebrate CNY with us as well. She’s a Singh, and we joked that we ought to swap lives because I’m Chinese but I love Indian food especially chapatti, and she’s Indian but she loves Chinese food. I think I have a chapatti face. Round and flat! (; Anyway, during visitation, we would serve guests with pineapple tarts and barbecued roast pork slices most commonly known as “bak kwa”. My Indian friend loves the snacks! I love the pineapple tarts the most. There are different variations of the tarts i.e. They come in different shapes and sizes. Will post some photos soon!
Photos below! Shall update this entry with photos of the snacks. Sorry I haven’t uploaded photos on the goodies (too busy snacking on them hehe!):-