“The” New Year’s round the corner
Updated: Apr 10
As you all know, I got stuck a little trying to start 2014. But, the Green Horse Year is coming in at a galloping pace and I’m all ready to catch it and hop onto the saddle. Heart Guy’s come back from Vietnam with the mandatory rice cakes and I put up the pickles a fortnight ago. The Peranakan pineapple tarts that all Singaporeans must have and Cheryl Lu Lien Tan writes so evocatviely about have been rolled and baked, all 120 of them! And the po-piah is all done and sitting in the freezer, ready to be thawed out for Reunion Dinner. It’s certainly not going to be the New Year of famine I wrote about in my novel As the Heart Bones Break.
All that’s left is for me to slide the good luck money into the red hong bao envelopes and I’m all set for visiting on New Year Morning.
Visiting, or bai nian, occupies most of the first day of the New Year. In the old days, it involved making offerings at the ancestral altar at the stroke of mid-night. We don’t do that in our family. But we do go visit all our elders, in strict succession, starting with my grandmother first and then my parents followed by other relatives then bosses and friends. There’s a strict etiquette to the visiting, including the colour of your clothes, the gifts to bring and the greetings to be used. You can read all about it here:
Bai Nian is very important It’s the start of the New Year We must be very partic’lar ‘Specially about grammar
Every New Year we go to Gramma’s To greet her with the proper words “Happy New Year” and “Please be happy” and “Don’t get sick”
Then Gramma will smile a big fat smile And give us each a big fat smacky kiss And our New Year Hong Baos too
Words make the world go round Gramma says Words make the New Year we all know
Say the wrong thing at New Year time and … F A I L No smiles no kisses no Hong Baos neither
Our New Year goes kaput!
Like I said New Year’s very important And in the New Year book Gramma’s number one Along with grammar too
Have you ever stressed your children out unintentionally with rules about “the rituals” and forgotten the true meaning of the celebrations… What did you resolve to do to prevent this in the future?