Kung Hei Fat Choi (gōng xǐ fā cái) is traditional Chinese New Year greeting meaning: Congratulations and best wishes for a prosperous New Year!
Chinese all around the world are celebrating “Chinese New Year” today. It is the most important traditional festival for Chinese. It’s the time for family to be together whenever they are people come home to celebrate the festival with families and have the traditional “Reunion Dinner” or so-called “Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner”.
Last night, I have been invited to join a Chinese new year’s eve dinner by my boyfriend’s brother-in-law, whose a Chinese. I am honored and feel like a member of their family. I’ve tasted a lot of delicious Chinese delicacies and I’ve got to try “Yu Sheng” a salad dish comprising thin slice of raw fish and various spices and sauces, with colorful shredded vegetables, chopped nuts, bits of pomelo, candied citrus peel and etc., mixed as we tossed the ingredients together using chopsticks while shouting good luck wishes. It is traditionally served only during Chinese New year.
The Chinese culture is rich with symbolism and superstition especially when it comes to Chinese new year. One of those is the cleaning of the house to sweep away all ill-fortune and making way for incoming luck. Door and windows are decorated with red color paper-cuts or couplet which symbolizes “good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity”. I also observed they’re giving away a pair of orange and tangerine. Chinese associating the gift of orange and tangerine as having an abundance of happiness and prosperity. I received one pair from my company.
Chinese new year won’t be complete without giving & receiving “Ang Pao or Hongbao”. It is a small red paper envelop inserted with money. It is a monetary gift which is given during holidays or any special occasions like weddings that usually given out buy married couple mostly to single people. The Dragon/Lion dance show and fireworks display which are thought to bring good luck make the festival more fun & exciting.
Ghost Month or also commonly known as “Hungry Ghost Festival” is the month for Chinese to pray and make offerings for the souls of their loveones who passed away, just as Christian Catholics have “All Souls Day” during every month of November. In Chinese tradition the 7th month of Lunar calendar which is August is the “Ghost Month” and the 15th day of the seven month is the “Ghost Day” which deceased believed to visit the living as the “gates of hell” are opened and free the ghost to roam around the Earth.
During the festival numbers of large paper bins are seen along the roadside for the believers to use for their traditional rites just like “worshipping the spirit” by burning incense and joss sticks, burning paper money which they believe would give fortune in the afterlife and offering a prayer and array of foods like (Orange, rice, Chinese cake which is especially made only for the occassion and etc.) to the hungry ghost.
I got invited for a Hungry Ghost Dinner and Auction. It’s another way of celebrating the festival. It was a dinner and auction of chinese stuff which attended by an employees of a known company here in Singapore. It was enjoyable but quite embarrassing moment for me. I forgot it was a Chinese dinner party and there were no spoon and fork served on the table and I never ever used chopsticks in my entire life before. I don’t know how to use them and I had no idea of the proper etiquette of using it. I feared I might offend them and I was scared might I mess up and drop the foods on the table or on my dress. I didn’t want to look funny to everybody and I didn’t want to embarrass the people who invited me. Thanked God I managed to eat the delicious foods by the helped of my kind companion (whom I consider as my big sister here in Singapore) by putting foods on my plate :)… It was so shameful.
A complete dinner meal were served that begins with a hot soup, followed by a fresh fish, meat, vegetable and seafoods for main course and dessert and tea/coffee afterward. I didn’t know the exquisite names of the dishes but I have to say it was one of the best meals I have ever had. It was extraordinary and unusually different. Apart from how the foods tasted, the presentation of the dishes themselves were eye-catching, I was impressed.