Chinese New Year is upon us! And if you think the new year is going to usher in miracles, keep wishing. While I don’t have a list of magical stones and red things that could possibly shower you with extra luck, I do have a guide.
A guide to getting through the festivities (relatively) unscathed. Buckle up, because it’s going to get rough and you best be prepare to take one whatever awaits you in wilderness — I mean houses.
Not one to be superstitious, I don’t actually believe that throwing food up in the air will bring more luck. But hey, since you’ve been given the green light to play with your food, you might as well enjoy the moment with cousins you haven’t met in a while.
Get everyone from your generation in on it and see who can toss that fortune the highest.
Load up on food because you’re going to need it. The next couple of days are going to see you hopping from house to house with nothing but snacks to fuel you. This might be your last big meal before setting out on this annual two day adventure.
There’s a whole PR know-how that goes into getting in and out of the festivities without starting a family feud or wanting to never see some relatives again. Everything starts with the smile and a handshake — a proper firm one mind you.
With that smile and handshake you’ve set the tone. No one’s going to think you don’t have manners or you’re a snooty little shit.
Now that you’ve gone through the formalities. It’s time to stay low, blend in with those from your generation. As with animals in the wild, the loner is going to get picked off. You’ll catch the attention of some nosy auntie and before you know it, you’re having a conversation about your lack of a partner… or explaining what your job entails for the 100th time.
Yes be that one person from your family that has somehow managed to wiggle out of the tradition of visiting family and get yourself out of the country. Laugh to yourself from halfway round the world as you enjoy your holiday.
Every Chinese New Year, our elders are suddenly compelled to serve soft drinks, often the of the bright orange variety, and only that. What happened to plain water? I like water.
If that isn’t enough to convince you to bring your own supply of water, the oppressive weather should. When I think of Chinese New Year, I think of heat — oppressive, sweltering, heat and humidity that’s compounded by having to put on more fabric.
Bak kwa (barbecued pork), pineapple tarts, kueh bangkit (melt-in-your-mouth coconut goodness), love letters, hei zo (prawn rolls) and the list goes on. But not all festive snacks are made the same. I’d say 60% aren’t worth the space in my stomach or calories — if you’re into calorie counting.
Don’t commit the amateurish mistake of going for wrapped up chocolates… especially the gold coins. That terrible taste of artificial chocolate will linger like misfortune in your sorry life.
There’s bound to be a proper meal to be had at one of the houses you visit. Somewhere, someone is cooking tau yu bak (pork belly braised in soya sauce), chicken curry, ayam buah keluak — you get the picture.
Usually a grandmother or grandaunt, all you’ve gotta do is walk into the kitchen to snoop around. Chances are someone will ask you to get a plate
Once a year, you come close to fracturing your hand. Hand Crushers — these are people (usually male) that have taken the firm handshake to another level. A handshake so jacked on manliness that you can’t help but feel like you’ve just been dominated and put in your place.
That’s right, he’s just shown you who’s boss around these parts. But this year, you’ve got my sliver of internet wisdom in your ear. And I say, crush back.
If you want to cause an uproar with the older generation, wear black, or something that could be mistaken for black. If you didn’t know already, black will bring bad luck according to the superstitions. Remember, they didn’t study the Pantone colour chart.
And with reference to point 4 on staying “low-key”, unless you’re itching for a nagging (which is as ), don’t wear black.
When will it be your turn? Why no boyfriend or girlfriend? Just find your best male or female friend and ask them to tag along. They’ll visit your family for the first day, and you’ll visit with them for the second… or something along those lines.
I think this point is particularly brilliant because, you’ll both collect more ang bao (red packet) and save yourselves from the interrogations. And you could have some fun with your relatives! Cook up weird stories about how you met and that sort of stuff.
I’m not a gambling man. Never have been. However, by the second day I usually succumb to the pressures of Chinese New Year and join in because sitting alone seemed a bit too anti-social, even for me.
Play the bare minimum and reap the rewards of greedy and fool hardy people. Don’t be kay kiang (act smart) and think you’re the master of gambling.
In 2016 I started with a dollar, and left with $30. Moral of the story? Hustle your friends.
Even after following all the other points, there’s no way you’re going to avoid mind numbing conversations completely. What I’ve learnt to do is to nod my head and make an audible “mmm” instinctively.
Allowing my mind to wander off to more interesting places while I entertain the random auntie who bestows her wisdom upon me every year. “Accounting is very good. What are you doing?”
You’re exhausted, single, young, you’ve endured and fended off nosy relatives for days. Now you’re so done with this holiday. But your pockets are full of ang bao! Not so bad after all huh?
Retreat to your room and count up the money like a good Asian. But remember, don’t that person that goes around asking how much everyone else got. Because no one likes that person.
Sure there’s a lot of tacky nonsense that come with the festivities these days. But, take a step back from being a cynic and take appreciate the little things. Like family, the snacks and how really odd things are believed to represent and improve your life in the grand scheme of things.
With 15 points, I’m tapping out — pat yourself on the back if you got the reference. Enjoy the holidays, gong xi fa cai and Happy New Year!
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