I never really understood the expression “Season’s Greetings” on cards. One would be expected to be more specific about the season. I have been getting photographs from friends in different countries, and they all look the same because there is snow covering gardens and garden furniture. It’s definitely the season of winter.
In many countries in Asia tomorrow is the eve of the Lunar New Year. It’s the reason for the celebrations that will last for two weeks (or 15 days to be precise). It starts with the reunion dinner on the eve of the Lunar New Year when the family gathers over a special meal which has taken a lot thought and time to prepare. If you are like me, you will go to the internet for ideas. The unusual thing about the meal is that each dish has a meaning, and it is usually related to good health and wishes for good luck and prosperity. I came a cross of video by Marion and Noi (of Marion’s Kitchen) of how to make fried “money bags” with a sauce to go with it. It’s made of minced meat, chopped prawns and water chestnuts, wrapped in popiah skins (a soft, thin paper-like crepe made from wheat flour) and tied into a bag with a piece of spring onion. When it’s fried, it’s brown and crispy, and it really looks like a money bag.
But the thought that came to mind was what my father taught us when we were young: our treasure is each other. True wealth is the family, which is the reason for the family reunion dinner.
It’s wonderful that we have so many reasons to celebrate throughout the year. In Singapore, it seems that the year is always beginning because there is more than one new year in a year. The diversity of cultures makes life rich. If you are Thai-Chinese, you might end up celebrating new year three times a year. The Thai new year is on 13 April every year. Unlike the lunar new year, Songkran (the Thai new year), is based on the solar calendar. Songkran is better known as the water festival, when everyone is free to throw water at you. My first experience of it was when I was ten. A boy, about the same age, came up to me and squirted me in the face with a water pistol. I was so shocked, I hit him on the head with my ice-lolly. It wasn’t a good way to start the year, when one should turn over a new leaf and make resolutions to strive to be better person.
All of the festivals in the past months have been low key, and rightly so, as we have been in a pandemic. But we have felt our social nature more keenly than ever – the need to have family gatherings and reunions, the need to give thanks, the need to share our joys.
Covid has made me appreciate the simple things in life, like sunshine and little flowers by the pavement. I found a photo of a dessert we served last year. It looks like ice cream on a piece of cake, but it was actually “Orh Nee” or Teochew Sweet Yam paste on a piece of cake. That’s how life is, you can find something sweet in what looks cold, or better said, something good in everything that happens.
Wishing you and your family a Happy Lunar New Year.
By Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 10 February 2021