Monday, 23 January 2012

THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON


This year is an auspicious one for Dragons everywhere for it is said to be the luckiest of the twelve creatures that make up the Chinese calendar. The calendar has a twelve year cycle and as it is based on the lunar year, has a movable date. The New Year commences when there is a New Moon around January/February time and this year of 2012AD is the Chinese Year 4710 (or it could be 4709 or 4649 depending on which Chinese scholar you are a follower of!).


Scanned in photograph, apologies for the quality
Photograph taken when mum visited us in 1986 for Christmas and New Year


When we lived in Hong Kong those many moons ago, we loved the Chinese New Year celebrations: the fireworks in Hong Kong Harbour, the dragon dances, the Flower Market in Victoria Park, tasting different foods. It was such a colourful festival. The most important part of the New Year is to celebrate family and to honour one's ancestors. As it is a three day public holiday, it is the only time that businesses close and the streets can be very quiet on the first day of the New Year. Most people spend it at home with their families enjoying a celebratory meal. One of the customs that enchanted my girls when they were young was the exchange of red packets (lai see). These are usually handed down by an elder to a younger member of the family and contain HK dollars of an even number. It is unlucky to hand over an odd number of dollars as this is associated with money handed over at funerals. Depending on how many friends we met up with over the New Year, the girls could be the recipients of quite a substantial hoard of red envelopes.


Now here is a little known fact about me and Chinese New Year. Back from Hong Kong in 1992, having moved to a completely new area of the country from the one we left, I was invited to speak at the local Women's Institute about the Chinese New Year. Somehow or other, I became an 'expert' and ended up travelling around the WI circuit filling up a vacant spot in their calendar around the January/February time. It is true that I did have lots of Chinese embroideries they loved to see and handle, and I did have a large quantity of Chinese New Year decorations that I had collected over the years that they appreciated seeing, and recipes gathered from Chinese friends they enjoyed tasting. However, one of the high spots of the talk were the photographs I had taken of street signs on my travels around Asia. The most favourite of these - and, if you are of a nervous disposition, look away now - was the sign that read, Lo Slung Bra Company. The WI ladies loved it!


Wishing you all Kung Hei Fat Choi

1 comment:

Sian said...

Kung Hei Fat Choi to you too :) This is a really interesting post. I would love to see photos of your Chinese embroideries - how about a blog series?