Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chinese Lunar New Year

The Chinese New Year  falls on Feb. 14 this year.  This is an important occasion for the Chinese and is a public holiday ( or a few days) in countries like China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and many asian countries.  

One event of the chinese new year that is observed is the family reunion dinner held on the eve of the new year.  Family members will gather and feast, something like thanksgiving in the states.  In major cities in China, you may see many workers all returning home (usually cross-province) and clogging up the transport system, as they rushed back for the reunion dinners.  The chaotic atmosphere at these bus/train/plane terminals may be intimidating to the 1st time visitor.  

In Singapore, Chinese New Year is celebrated with the children wearing new clothes when families visit each other.   Mandarin oranges and red packets (1st pix) are given during the visit.  The oranges, known as "kum" in cantonese and "kum" is also known as gold, are given to head of families as respect.  Red packets containing money are given to children and elders as a "blessing".  BBQ sweetened red meats, usually pork, (pix 2) are traditional gifts during these periods.  In Singapore, one has to queue up for more than 3-5 hours, one week prior to the festive new year, to purchase these red meats due to their popularity (us$15 for 500g).  

One of my elderly tea friends (he was from Hongkong) told me that tea was also given to family members during the reunion dinner.  He recalled his dad buying a tong every year, or 7 pieces or pu erh and giving out a piece to each of his 5 grown-up children during the reunion dinner, and keeping 2 pieces himself for drinking.  I think this tea gifting custom is a nice gesture.

Last pix is a  2005 Haiwan ripe cake.  

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