Was chatting with Sito about LNY the other day, specifically why it was and hence still is so special to me. In my childhood, LNY represented many things that came only once a year:
1) New clothes
Yes, we got new clothes only once a year! Mother used to make matching dresses for MZ and me, at least up until I was in K2 or even lower primary. When we started to buy clothes, we had to almost beg from the sole breadwinner to get some money.
We usually had two days of visiting, first day to my paternal grandmother's place and second day to my maternal grandmother's place, even after they stopped talking (I think). So we had two outfits each. I remember I always bought the same things, probably in increasing sizes (!) - top with/without hood with matching berms and black/nude-coloured shoes coz 容易配! In short, I was super o-biang hoho!
Somewhere along the lines, we stopped going to my paternal grandmother's place altogether; just to Grams' place on the first day. Then only one outfit was necessary. But when I was independent, I almost always bought two outfits. And although I can get new clothes any time I want, I only do so on a - more or less - needs basis. Nothing, really, NOTHING beats having new clothes at LNY!
Once, towards the end of the year, the mum of the boy whom Mother was babysitting gave us a bundle of clothes from her shop, probably last pieces now that I think about it. I picked out a pair of tights and a top, and Mother said that they could be that one set of LNY clothes. I was furious to be robbed of my annual new clothes! I forgot what I said or did but I did eventually get to buy a set. Probably coz my siblings got to buy theirs.
All these years, the only LNYs where I did not get new clothes were when I was overseas. Else, at least the top must be new. This year, I forgot to shop while Sito was on leave in December - I wear Yu everywhere - so I ended up with a $8.90 top I bought online. That's cheaper than the $10 polo tee I got for N *.* Everything was worn before. Ah well...
2) Lion dance!
I seriously like lion dance. There were shops at the void deck so there would always be at least one lion dance. And once we heard the drums, we would fly out of the door to catch the dance! I love to see the lion move and go high up to get the lettuce, but not when it's hunched up on the floor, peeling oranges.
LNY superstition #1: I was in primary two when an orange peel hit my leg as the lion scattered the peel into the crowd after getting up. When I got second in class that year, Mother attributed it to the orange peel *.*
Caught a lion dance troop making the rounds at Paragon today!
When you have to keep asking people for money for 家用 (yes, always asking on Mother's behalf), for school fees coz GIRO failed half the time, for LNY clothes, for school books and supplies etc, you very quickly learn the importance of money.
Most years, I got around $100 worth of hongbao. Once, I went beyond $150 - that was like striking lottery!! It wasn't until JC that I learnt - and wondered - how some people could get three-digit from just one person!!
But the best part - and torturous too - was to queue up for hours at the bank with my bank book to deposit the money. I might have taken some loose change to spend but else, up to the nearest $10 went into the bank. 19 years later, the hongbao money along with various bursary and Edusave awards bought me my first laptop to bring to Oxford.
We used to meet up fortnightly at Grams' place. Yet, the LNY gathering was somewhat different. Maybe coz everything was nice and festival and everyone was happy, plus we saw more relatives?
But that was then. Now, the LNY is very 难得 coz we no longer meet up regularly after Grams passed away...
Well, it had always been a buffet at Grams' provision shop :p But LNY is different!! First, steamboat for reunion dinner. Granted, it's not that much of a reunion for us haha!! Still, steamboat = no fight. And for years, we had the old school steamboat - you know the sort with charcoal inside the tower in the middle? Ours was the next generation - it looked like it had charcoal inside but was powered by electricity.
At some point, we stopped having steamboat at reunion, probably coz we would have steamboat at Grams' place the next day. Then it got even better - fried spring rolls and/or wantans!!
And then there was the spread at the coffee table - all the candies up for grabs AT HOME! Every eve, Mother would take out candies and stuff and put into festive rotating containers. Come to think of it, I didn't see the containers this year.... Oh, and the annual bak kwa.... OH, AND YU SHENG!!!!
My favourite festival also came with various superstitions..
LNY superstition #2: The first day of LNY would dictate how the rest of the year turned out. Since I heard that from Mother, I woke up early on the first day to read whatever story book I had at that time! Two reasons: (1) I wanted to be productive and not lazy; (2) I wanted to do well in my studies but not wanting to read a textbook, I read a story book!
LNY superstition #3: Don't sweep the floor. I think I got that from the show 早安老师！There was a scene where the medicine shop shopkeeper told his DIL to sweep into the house. But it all tied up to why I always saw Mother sweep and mop at night on the eve - she usually did that in the day.
LNY superstition #4: I thought of this as I wrote #3 but now I forgot!!!
Now, I find that some of these superstitions have become habits. I still like to be productive so I wake early on the first day, never mind that it has been "enforced" since Kai came into our life! But I don't ever want to work on the first day so that I might possible do well at work *.*
Spring cleaning is also a habit that has since taken place more than once a year. This year in particular, I had more time being on leave. And I'm also preparing to reduce our stuff for moving. So I have been ruthless in spring cleaning.
As for the children, I have been dutifully collecting their hongbao and putting the money into their own accounts. When they come of age, it will be nice that they have a little sum that they can use for, well, hopefully something as meaningful as their first laptop though I doubt they would get their first that late!
More importantly, I hope that they would come to like LNY as much as I did. Ok, maybe that's tough haha! My number one reason - new clothes - doesn't seem to apply much to boys, especially boys with no shortage of new clothes, as Sito has kindly enlightened me... So hope that they would treasure LNY as a time to catch up with family and enjoy all things festive!
Oh, also hope that Kai will no longer be worried about 年兽 when LNY comes round again!!