CNY 2013

It’s been a while since I last wrote. Seeing as it is Chinese New Year (CNY), I thought I would share something my father shared with me.

On Saturday (the eve of CNY), while pumping gas, a woman came up to my father to sell cakes for RM$2. She pleaded with him to buy her cakes, as she needed money for her meal. My father has previously seen her around the market a few times, trying to sell her wares.

“I don’t want your cakes, but here’s some money.”

This woman’s situation reminded him of his own plight when he was younger. It was the eve of Chinese New Year’s eve in 1958. My Er Peh (second uncle), who was studying in Singapore then, had just returned home to usher in the New Year with the family. My Ah Neh (paternal grandmother), a seamstress, couldn’t get her then employer to pay her her rightful wage. She had to claim it, and yet, it fell on deaf ears. Determine to make a good New Year for her children, Ah Neh was forced to pawn off her eldest daughter’s gold bracelet. Er Peh, through much embarrassment, sadness and tears, had to hurry off to his friend’s pawn shop to pawn off the piece of jewelry.

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Black Water Dragon 2012

As more than a billion Chinese usher in the new lunar year, the 4,710th of the Chinese calendar, to many, this year is a very special year. The year of the mystical dragon. This year, many Chinese families will try to add to their brood by producing a little baby dragon…God willing.

CNY 2012

Like years before, our 15 days of CNY has FOOD as the focal point. We started early, even before the eve with steamboat at our friend’s in NYC. We had a great time with the Chens and hubs got kid-handled by the children, which was hilarious. Thank you Chens! Your children are a blessing and absolutely precious.

Tonight, on the eve of CNY, we will spend the night having a “reunion dinner” of sorts with my dear aunt in Wayne. Thank you Lims for your hospitality and love! (Not to mention the scrumptious food awaiting us!)

Reunion Dinner Feast

Reunion Dinner Feast (L-R): Steamed Red Snapper, Baby Bok Choy with Fish Cake, Beef Rendang, KaiLan (?), Siew Yok, Ginseng Chicken stuffed with Glutinous Rice (missing from the pic Mushroom Chicken)

Chinese New Year, won’t be Chinese New Year without some drama.

I woke up on the first day to Dusty nose deep in dried yeast that my uncle gave me the night before. Not only was there sweeping involved, which I am not supposed to do for fear of sweeping away the fortune, but there were three loads of laundry done too. On top of that, we were at the vet’s to get the dog to throw up all the yeast.

Yeast is harmful/poisonous to dogs because their body can’t break down the yeast. Instead, it will continuously rise and cause the dog’s stomach to bloat until it explodes. If that doesn’t happen, there is a chance of alcohol poisoning too. What a day!

But we still ended up celebrating the day with lunch at Petite Soo Chow in Cliffside Park and sushi for dinner.

Year of the Golden Rabbit

For 1 billion Chinese people in the world, February 3, 2011 is the beginning of one of the most celebrated and auspicious holidays in its culture. For the following 15 days, the Chinese celebrates and ushers in the New Year with not only a big bang, but plenty of eating, visiting and gambling. This year, the Year of the Rabbit, is said to offer much respite from the tumultuous  passing of the Year of the Tiger. It is said to be a calm-er and slower year ahead, one for those who strive and slogged through the Tiger Year. It is a year of recovery and comfort.

Little known useless fact: the Year of the Rabbit is also known to some as the Year of the Cat (by the Vietnamese). I once watched an anime called Fruits Basket that had 13 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. That 13th animal is an ostracized cat, but a cat nonetheless.

Aside from the usual tradition before and during the celebration of the New Year, there is the much sought after food during the festivities.

Unfortunately, there will be none of the celebrating for us, or visiting. We are by all accounts, still in mourning after my grandfather’s recent passing. One hundred days have not yet passed.

We, however, can still eat and enjoy each other’s company.

We also swept and cleaned the house, and even managed to change the bed sheets over to the silk comforter that my father bought from China years back. Hubs thought the golden silk duvet cover of dragon and phoenix embroidery was just too Chinese. He told me to sleep by myself. All the better, because I think this “Queen-sized” comforter was meant for little people and not the “American” size.

Unlike last year, the eve of this New Year falls on a week day. What’s more, I was not allowed to take the New Year off (I called that racism and everything else under the snowy and icy sky of New Jersey). So no big dinner on the eve of New Year, but hubs, DC and I will be going out for dinner tomorrow. We would have done a cookout for friends and family over the weekend, but circumstances dictates otherwise.

In any case, we will STILL be stuffing our faces and awaiting my younger sister’s arrival on Superbowl Sunday (the third day of Chinese New Year) to have steamboat at home.

初一 First Day

Went to work – to earn my keep. Came back to really happy children.

After waiting for some time to get a table at Petite Soo Chow in Cliffside Park, NJ, we were finally seated. We ordered fish 鱼 steamed with tofu and chilli in clay pot, (鱼 yu sounds like “extras” – extra food, extra money, extra love, just plain extra), pan-fried noodles, vege wrapped in bean curd skin and scallion pancake. Great dinner that left us waddling to the car and DC made sure the final bill came up to $X8.88.

Damn Chinese!

Off to more eating tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday!

15 days of Chinese New Year

OriginsTraditionsFoodDecoration15+ Days

Eve | First Day | Second Day | Third Day | Fourth Day | Fifth Day | Sixth Day | Seventh Day | Eight Day | Ninth Day | Tenth Day | Eleventh Day | Twelfth Day | Thirteenth Day | Fourteenth Day | Fifteenth Day

Origins of Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year (CNY) or Spring Festival, 春節 chun jie, is a huge celebration, and one that is the most important of Chinese holidays, for more than a billion Chinese people around the world. The origin of this celebration is by itself centuries old and has gained significance through myths, superstitions and traditions.

My father once told us that CNY began with the fight of men against a beast. Every year, on the first day of New Year, a mythical beast called Nian 年 would attack livestock, crops, villagers and even children. To protect themselves, the villagers would offer food to placate the beast. After much trial and errors, it seemed that Nian was also afraid of the color red and loud, explosive noise from firecrackers. So from then on, overcoming Nian became 過年 Guo Nian and the tradition of preparing food, wearing red and playing with firecrackers carried on.
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