Monday, February 10, 2014

CNY Memories

Chinese New Year has come and gone. I didn't feel anything at all because I have no Chinese friends here, so it's kinda pointless to celebrate it on my own (plus it's too tough to try to make some of the lovely CNY cakes that I love). The other day I was talking about CNY with a relative of mine and it brought back my CNY childhood memories. :-D

You see, we lived with grandma (mom's mom) from the time when I was 4 years old until her death (I think I was around 17 years old at that time). Grandma was a Catholic and when we were younger, every CNY she'd prepare a big table. On the table there would be special CNY food offerings for those who had gone before us as well as an incense bowl (now I seem to recall she also put the photos of her ancestors on the table). She'd burn some incense and put the incense sticks in the bowl. As kids, we just enjoyed doing something like that because we could only do it once a year and we'd just mimic her even without understanding what it meant.

Because my grandma was a pretty prominent figure in her family, many relatives would come to visit us on CNY, including her elder sisters. Normally (as far as I know) the younger ones are supposed to be the ones visiting the elder ones. As young children, we enjoyed being able to meet our cousins and play with them. We also enjoyed meeting our aunts and uncles because usually they'd give us red enveloped filled with money HE HE HE HE HE HE...Oh, and let's not forget all the delicious CNY food that we'd be able to eat! My mom's family (grandma's big family) is famous for being wonderful cooks (including the men), because from ages ago, they had learnt to earn money by selling food. Even until today there are still many people who know my grandma's name related to her delicious food.

Because we weren't rich, mom would sometimes made us some new clothes (she always has a stack of cloth ready to be turned into new clothes) for the event so that my parents wouldn't have to buy new ones. 

Anyway, what I suddenly remembered while replying to my relative's email about CNY was one of the traditions that we did a few times when we were still young. Grandma bought some fake paper money and then she taught us how to fold them into something like this (when I googled them, I found out they were called joss paper). Click on the link to find more info about joss paper.

Here's a video clip on what we did back then:

I remember with the help of many cousins, we ended up making dozens and dozens of them. And after that, we'd burn them one by one in a huge tin. Of course as a young child, being allowed to burn stuff safely was fun ha ha ha ha ha...One thing I think I missed during our childhood was the dragon dance. My mom told me that when she was younger, the dragon dances used to be held on the streets and they were so beautiful. I think these days there are more dragon dances because the government has considered CNY as a national holiday. Still I'm glad for these lovely memories. :-)


  1. That's a very heart warming memory. I like the idea of remembering loved ones who have passed.

    1. Yeah, humans need rituals to comfort themselves and honor those who've left, I suppose. :-)

  2. sometimes I miss celebrating CNY too with my family. But since i move here, I never feel to celebrate CNY. CNY just a day... Kagak berasa perayaan CNY di kota kami. Kl di kota2 besar mungkin y.

    1. Sama dong, Jul, di sini juga ga kerasa apa2...karena aku satu2nya Chinese di sini ha ha...