Friday, February 16, 2007

Memories of Chinese New Years' Past

The run up to Chinese New Years was always chaotic and bustling. Dad would start taking over the kitchen, to start preparing his Baat Boh Faan. Mom would buy outfit after outfit, to make sure everyone in the family had new clothes.

The phone would ring constantly, I think for friends and family to coordinate visits. For 14 days of the New Year, friends and family would take turns visiting each other which is called "Bai Neen." Gifts of food would be exchanged, packets of red envelopes would pass from the upper generation to the lower generation with wishes of good fortune spilling forth from every pair of lips.

The kids would disappear, and show up only to sneak candied fruit from dishes scattered around living rooms. The parents would sit around, gossiping, exchanging good wishes and hopeful dreams for the New Year. Sometimes, visits would overlap and we'd run into other friends of ours who were visiting the same friends. Or after an hour or so, we'd hop back into the car and go visit another.

After I came to America, I found out that Southern Chinese practiced not washing their hair on New Year's Eve and New Years Day for fear the good fortune would be washed out. I started practicing that along with all my pals from college, the only one in my own family to do so.

Also another practice which is common among most Chinese is gambling the night away. If you won, that would show that you'd have good luck/fortune for the next year. And if you lost, well, you'd hope that the new year would go by fast. I personally would like to practice this one but Bratworse hates gambling.

I do miss hearing the "pow chyung", the firecrackers - I miss smelling gunpowder. I also really miss the lion dances and the thump thump thump of the accompanying drums. Maybe one year, I'll bring Bratworse over to the Far East to see how Chinese New Year's is really celebrated.



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