Shopping for groceries during the Chinese Lunar New Year season is not easy…. Firstly, you need the sharp and attentive skills of an F1 driver to meander through super busy aisles with your own shopping cart – and everyone else’s.Then, you need legs of steel to join the gridlock at the cashier.
While this is but a ‘short term’ inconvenience, it made me think of the immense preparation required by families who are steeped in practicing Lunar New Year traditions. Thank God that my parents opted to do away with certain practices.
My grandparents were very fastidious in their annual ‘spring-cleaning’ of the house. Old furniture, clothing, newspapers had to be bundled up neatly with raffia string and left for the garbage collector to haul away. Every nook and cranny had to be thoroughly cleaned.
Then on the eve of new year, our entire household had to wake up before the crack of dawn to open the front and back door of the house. This was to welcome the kitchen god. They also prepared some goodies for him in the form of a sticky lotus cake, nian gao.
I don’t know if the real reason was that the gooey cake would cling to the roof of his mouth to make it difficult for him to give an account to the heavens on our ‘performance’, or something made up to stop me from questioning back then. Like Santa and who’s been naughty or nice!
They also decreed that floors were never to be swept on the first day of Lunar New Year lest all the luck got ‘swept away’.. And nobody was to wear even a hint of black- ever!
While I marvel at the vibrant and colourful display (especially fruit platters made up of jelly(agar agar), and new year hampers shaped like chinese junk ships), I found the best explanation for why certain foods were used specifically for the festivities here
Then there’s the hypnotic Cai Shen Dao tune that keeps ringing in my head like a certain umbrella song…!
Cai Shen with his beard, hat and pot full of gold…ingots. Hmmmm…
New year rocks – Gong Xi Fa Cai, Hong Pao Na Lai!