Offerings to the Jade Emperor of Heaven at 11pm of the 8th CNY day – a Hokkien Chinese New Year. More details below …
Good evening, dear friends 😀
Wow, I have been absent for a long time from my virtual home here – a belated Happy Chinese New Year or Gong Xi Fa Cai to you. 😀
So many things have happened since I last posted here and this Chinese New Year (CNY) has turned out very different from all my previous CNYs. Tomorrow, is the last day of the CNY celebration and what I thought was going to be a horrible CNY turned out to be a fantastic one! 😆
Here are the reasons why this year’s CNY was so different (there were many “firsts” –
1) for the first time, I was sick with a persistent bad cough right before the CNY until today. It was very difficult cooking the Family Reunion Dinner butmy 4 children were very sporting and they helped me a lot in the kitchen. Previously, the cooking was a solo affair. My 8-course dinner was cut down to 6 dishes cooked at home, and my brother-in-law gave me a slab of Crispy Roast Pork/Siew Yoke for the first time. 😀
2) it rained and rained almost everyday with heavy thunderstorms during the Chinese New Year…never before experienced before. Only today, did the weather felt like the traditional CNY weather – extremely hot and dry. 🙄
3) a few days before the CNY, my husband and I had to attend a funeral – my husband’s colleague’s father had passed away. Usually, the Chinese do not like to attend “white occasions” (white means mourning or sad occasions) so close to the CNY, but we thought we should pay our last respects anyway at the funeral. Wow, it turned out that the funeral was a “red occasion”, a celebration, because the deceased passed away at a very ripe old age of 101 years! 😯
So, instead of the usual funeral decorations of white cloth everywhere, there were red table cloths, red chairs, lanterns with red lettering instead of black lettering. For the Chinese, if a person passes away at or after the age of 100, he or she is considered to be very lucky to reach such an old age and therefore, the funeral is a celebration instead. The living family members are not allowed to cry during the funeral.
4) On the eve of CNY, I found out my neighbours had given birth to their first son…and I quickly give them a big angpow for their baby to celebrate this joyous occasion – their being parents for the first time. Again, the Chinese don’t quite like to visit the newborn and their mother within the first 30 days of the birth, because they are considered “not clean” until the baby’s first month’s birthday and the CNY was so close. Well, I decided not to dwell too much on that belief and instead, just participated in the joyous arrival of the newborn baby boy.
5) For the first time in many years (actually since I stopped working in 2000), we invited guests over for a party on the night of the 8th day of CNY for the Hokkien Chinese New Year celebration. On that night, the Hokkien Chinese celebrate the CNY in a big way….offerings are made in thanks to the Jade Emperor of Heaven. Please see the picture above … my family had a simple offering consisting of a whole Roast Duck, 2 large slabs of Crispy Roast Pork/Siew Yoke, a whole Steamed Chicken, some sweets, and fruits. After the prayers, we ate the meats together with rice porridge.
According to the Hokkien legend, in the ancient times, there were demonic forces on Earth and the Hokkien Chinese had to go hiding among the tall sugar cane plants and they couldn’t celebrate CNY. On the 9th day of CNY, the Jade Emperor of Heaven came to Earth to chase away the demons and the humans could come out of their hiding and then only did they celebrate the CNY. So, these days, it is a lavish affair indeed where crates of drinks, piles of sweets/kuihs, a whole Roast Pig…and much more being offered as thanks to the Jade Emperor of Heaven.
6) this year, I had a shorter CNY rest as my Feng Shui online store was receiving orders from the rest of the world and I was busy packing and sending things off…good news for me though, it has been 8 years since I stopped working and at least now, I can help to contribute to the family’s income again! 😀
7) the most auspicious and happiest occasion for me was last night, when my husband and I attended a double 80th Birthday Dinner of a lovely couple that is my late mother-in-law’s neighbours. How wonderful and auspicious indeed…to be of the same age and able to celebrate the 80th birthday together. To the Chinese, the 80th Birthday is considered “Tai Sou” or a “Grand Birthday”. 😀
The children of these couple held a lavish 10-course dinner at a Chinese restaurant and towards the end of the dinner, each guest was given a gift of 2 “Tai Sou” Chinese Rice Bowls and 2 pairs of Red Chinese Chopsticks….a symbolic, auspicious gesture that the birthday couple is giving to the guests in return ample food to be had always with those rice bowl and chopsticks. How beautiful! 😀
A gift from the “Tai Sou” or 80th Big Birthday couple to the dinner guests – 2 “Sou” Chinese Rice Bowls and 2 pairs of Red Chopsticks
So, in the end, my Chinese New Year turned out to be such a fantastic one with so many auspicious occasions!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
With peace and joy,