My friend Hui-Min has lived in Otterbourne for 10 years. Today she is sharing with us her childhood memory of the Chinese New Year.
Meet Hui-Min from Singapore.
What is Singapore like?
“I am from Singapore. Singapore is a small city-state. 75% of its population are Chinese. The rest are Malays, Indians and others.”
What is your family tradition and memory relating to the Chinese New Year?
“In Singapore, we have two days of public holidays to celebrate the Chinese New Year. My earliest memory was as a child, my parents would buy for me new clothes and new shoes to wear during the Chinese New Year, and they were supposed to last for the whole year. So this once-a-year shopping trip was always something I looked forward to.”
“My mother would stock up cookies and tidbits for guests. The first day of the Chinese New Year was always spent on visiting our closest relatives – my grandparents when I was young, and then later when I got married and moved out of my parents’ house, my parents. During the following 14 days, we would either visit other relatives and friends, or they would visit us.”
What food did you eat?
“At some point, restaurants started offering reunion dinner set meals and so we started to eat outside. A very popular dish in our country is 鱼生 (yú shēng), a raw-fish salad, meaning Prosperity Toss. Before consuming the salad, diners gather around the table and toss the salad ingredients into the air with chopsticks while saying various auspicious wishes.”
“Food that we stock up at home for guests include 肉干(ròu gān, barbeque meat), 瓜子(guāzǐ, roasted seeds), 蛋卷 (dàn juǎn, crispy rolls), pineapple tarts, and all sorts of cookies.”
How do you celebrate the Chinese New Year in England?
“I try to follow some traditions to create a bit of atmosphere at home: put up decorations, give my children 红包 (Red Envelope), have a reunion dinner. If time permits, we may organise a get-together dinner with a few friends and their families. Our city Southampton normally holds a celebration on a Sunday, with stage performances and lion dance.”
Do you miss home?
“Of course I do, in particular when my parents and brothers are having reunion dinner and I am not able to join them.”
Thank you Hui-Min for sharing your Chinese New Year memories from your childhood in Singapore. We have learned a lot of Chinese culture from your stories.
I wish you and your family a happy, peaceful and healthy new year. I think we both should have a reunion (and a reunion meal) soon.