It’s only another week to the Chinese (Lunar) New Year (CNY) or Spring Festival. For majority of the Chinese Singaporean, Jan 1 is just another public holiday. The Chinese New Year truly marks the start of a new beginning.
This year (2007), it occurs on 18 Feb (Sun). Around this time in Singapore, the festive preparation efforts kicks into full swing with a huge array of activities are carried out. Parents will be busy orchestrating the household major cleaning efforts, defects have to be fixed up, the walls will be given a good scrub or a fresh coat of paint, junk materials “acquired” over the past year will be thrown out. We believe that the household needs to be thoroughly cleaning before the new year (ie by 17 Feb), to get rid of all the bad luck. During the first two days of year, no sweeping is permitted, to avoid sweeping away the luck for the New Year.
My favourite part of the preparation effort is the festive food list. Around this time, the local newspapers will start commenting on the prices of the festive food like the abalone, shark fin, vegetables, meat and Bak Kua (BBQ sweet meat – similar to pork jerky). The price of Bak Kua is monitored closely by the newspaper and TV news station like stock index. Which is rather pointless because we all know for a fact, that the prices of Bak Kua will just keep going up closer to the New Year. Still it’s part of the fun to see the long queue of people waiting outside Bak Kua stalls around Chinatown.
Mum usually order all our festive sweets – like pineapple tarts, love letters (thin egg rolls), white coconuts biscuits, spicy dried shrimp rolls and Bak Kua from her work place. Dad will be gathering all the abalone orders from his brothers to do a bulk order. They are pretty expensive stuff, one can of abalone cost about USD 26 (for 1 shell fish) so it’s always good to consolidate orders to get a better deal.
My favourite part of the celebration is the reunion dinner which occurs on the eve of Chinese New Year. It is a time where everyone in the family gathers together for a big family meal over hot pot. It is such a good feeling to have everyone under the same roof. Grandma, all my uncles and aunties and my cousins (I’m 2 of 14). A fortnight ago, my eldest cousin announced that she’s expecting. I’m sure this would make her the talking point of the festival.
The last time I spent Chinese New Year away from home when I was doing my studies over summer. Being away from a close knit family is very hard during the festive period, it is one of the hardship one has to consider when working overseas.Enough of blogging, time to clean up my place before the New Year.
Chinese New Year (wiki, excellent article)