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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chinese New Year Eve - 30th Night

My mother would usually go overboard when it comes to the 30th Night. She had known bad and hungry days when she was younger, when she had to give the only slice of chicken to her younger brother and she would go without meat herself. Those were the Japanese Occupation days when the extended family depended on everyone's effort to grow vegetables, rear chickens and dig for potatoes while at the same time being afraid of Japanese soldiers coming for a raid.

In the 1970's when she grew older and as we children started having jobs and bringing home enough for her, she was more than happy to cook a good New Year Eve's dinner for us.

Today, already in her 80's the Reunion Dinner on the New Year's Eve is important and everyone in the family is expected to be present. However each year she would also remember the loved ones who had gone earlier: my father and my brother. But the evening is for the living and there is a quiet joy as we count our blessings. Sometimes we would have an aunt or a cousin to join us and that is definitely an added blessing.

However certain years in the past, just to be a little different, we had dinner or made do with even a lunch in a local restaurant.

What is significant for the New Year Eve dinner is that we must have fish on the menu. In Chinese (Yu) shares the same sound with the word 'extra' or 'leftover'. There is a New Year phrase that says "Nian Nian You Yu" which means, "there is some (fish) leftover from the previous year, every year". Therefore the lucky fish is a lucky dish, and paintings of fish are also loved by many. We will usually keep a little leftover from the reunion dinner, just as a symbolic gesture.

Although we Foochows generally do not like Fa Cai, sometimes for the fun of it, we will cook this common lucky dish which means "prosperity and good fortune". Fa Cai is a type of fungi that looks a lot like shiny black hair, and its Chinese name sounds just like "prosperity" in Chinese; whilst Hao Shi is preserved oyster, which sounds like "good things".

Besides we also have duck, chicken, noodles, and a green vegetable which is usually leek (in Chinse it means count - so it would imply that we have plenty of money to count). Many Chinese like to have abalone and sharksfin. But as we become more environmentally conscious we are beginning to make do without sharksfin especially. Personally I cannot bear to picture the finless sharks' carcass being thrown into the sea.

The reunion dinner is always a happy occasion when everyone will let down their hair and eat to their heart's content.

And my mother would always enjoy seeing so much left over. She would say, "A lot , a lot!!" This is very auspicious for all of us and the year would be bountiful.


May you have a prosperous, blessed and healthy Lunar New Year!!

And a Chun Lian or Spring Couplet for you:
Ping,Ping, Ang, Ang (Peace) or Chu Jin Pin Ang (Peace wherever you go)
Wan Zhi ru Yi (Success in every endeavour)

2 memories:

Quachee said...

heya this share is very touching. esp as it is the eve today! :) have a gr8 cny :)

sarawakiana said...

Thanks again, for dropping by.
Yes, it is new year eve and we definitely think of New Year Eves of the Past, and the present one, and even of the future ones. It is a time for thought searching and thanksgiving.

I am grateful for what I have and for all the good and bad things which have happened.

Let's be merry and celebrate!!

Joy!!

Sarawakiana.

 

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