First of all , here's wishing all of my chinese friends here and around the world a '' Happy, Healthy & Prosperous Lunar New Year ''. As with previous years, its a busy and hectic festival for me and my wife. The pre and post festive preparation are far out ...!! It's a bit tiring for the both of us, but in the end its worth all the efforts we put in, after all its all done for the love of our childrens, relatives and friends....Yee Haa !!
We chinese are blessed with a rich culture & tradition that spans across thousand of years. Be it a simple Mid Autumn festival or a grand affair like the Lunar new year, we have our very own unique and simple way of celebrating it. But the fact is, it brings us all together and help bond our relation a little closer. We may speak different dialects and come from different backgrounds, but in the end, be proud that we are the descendant of .... '' The Dragon '' .
This is basically a photo journey back through time ( to my childhood days ), back to the 50's & 60's and the way we celebrated chinese new year. Call me sentimental , retro, old school or as with most cancerians, I love those good old days and stuffs related to my younger days. Its an article on the way we celebrate our chinese new year in Batu Pahat during our younger days. I believe most of you share some similarity if not most of it. Be it the food , cookies, fire crackers, new clothings or make ups, they are of course a chinese tradition that has been handled down through the centuries ... !!
I wish I have my own pics to share with you all, but sadly most of my old pics were damaged beyond repair during a flood in the 80's. Other then the first few pics, the rest were all taken from the web , through google image search. I will like to thank all those whose pictures i have downloaded and shared here.
First off, here's one ( 2014 ) family reunion dinner gathering shot ... '' Chian Chia Fu ''. There are of course some family members who were still on the road and not in the pic. Here's wishing you all a '' Happy, Healthy & Prosperous '' lunar new year.
To begin the trip down memory lane, I shall start as with most families with the pre new year house cleaning, decorations and the pasting of the auspicious door couplets and '' FU '' calligraphy. Its a tradition I am glad, that is still practice today.
Next, besides the new clothes and house cleaning, it was the pre new year day '' reunion '' dinner that matters most. As both of my parents are Hainanese, the famous '' Hainanese Chicken Rice '' was a must , along with the Steamed Minced Pork '', vegetables soup and Steamed Pompret . Not forgetting my mum's garlic & ginger '' chili sauce.... Yee Haa !!
For the reunion dinner, my favorite has always been my Mum's Hainanese Chicken ...!!
Along with Steamed pomfret and Minced pork .
And not forgetting the all important ... '' Ginger & Garlic '' chili sauce. This is the appetizers that will keep your taste buds burning for all the main dishes ...!!
Besides this there's always the vegetables and steamed salted pork slices. But the one food that keeps us kids going the whole day is the '' Nian Kao '', fried along with a mixed of flour and eggs .
Finally, as with all delicious food, you need to drowse it all down with a touch of liquid . For that, in those days, you either have a cup of sky juice or for this occasion ... '' F&N '' oranges or sarsi. This are drinks that were considered a '' luxury '' item back in the 50's & 60's , when our pocket money for the whole month was around 50 cents. As for town kids like me, I will always go out and find a part time job as a '' Jaga Basikal '', just to buy the things I need.
Just before dawn on the first day of the lunar new year, I would get up early and dress myself up with my new clothes and shoes as do my brothers and sister. Back then for us boys, besides the clothing, it was that '' Elvis '' hairstyle looks that matters. We tried our very best to make that curry puff looks high and shinny ... Ha,Ha.
That's me next to my childhood idol '' Elvis '' back in good old ... '' 1965 ''.
As for the girls and ladies, it was the simple powdery look that shines for them, besides makeups and lipsticks were expensive back then. So, the best selling makeup was the then ( still selling today ), '' Hoi Tong '' pressed powder in both white and pink. They were used by both my mum and granny.
Revlon or Maybelline ..? Who needs them !! This ladies from the early days looks just as gorgeous with those simple powder puff makeups ... Far Out !!
During the morning of the first day of chinese new year, it was the '' Ang Pow '' that most of us kids look up to. They weren't that fancy back then and all we were care about was the money inside ... What ?? Yes, as with most kids, we were not aware of the significance behind the red packet at all ... Deng !! It was my Mum who later in my childhood told me the real meaning behind the red packet. Its not the money that counts, its the '' Hao Yin '' and '' Chi Siang '' that it brings along with the wishes from the Heart that matters. Back in the 50's , getting 20 cents in our Ang Pows was the norm. It was a huge amount back then, and it was only in the 60's that we see the likes of 50 cents and a dollar in the later years. Those were the days my friends...Ha,Ha.
Not forgetting those equally important Mandarin oranges ...'' Loh Kam '', Nian Kao, cookies, biscuits and sweets.
After those it was the sound of the '' Lion Dance '' that attracts us kids. It was also an opportunity to get some free fire crackers from the adults when the Lions are at your doorsteps.... Ha,Ha. Here are some really old pics of those good old '' Lion Dance '', a truly rich chinese traditional culture ... !!
Besides all the food & drinks and Lion dance, it was the thundering sound of the '' Fire Crackers '' that interest me the most. Like most chinese new year traditions & culture, firing the crackers on the eve and last day of the lunar new year, help drives those bad spirits and '' Nian '' ( Ferocious animal with the head of a lion & body of a bull ) away ...!! Most fire crackers comes in different shapes and form. But the main one has always been the '' Pian Pao ''.
Here are the pics ... Three of my favorites are the @ Hua Pao @ Hong Pao and the value for money @ Shek Pao ......Fire in the Hall !!
Not forgetting those rolls of '' Hong Pao '' for the fairly well off families and businessman.
Those wonderful '' Moon Travellers '' , with or without the whistling sound.
This is another one of those '' HOT '' items during our younger days. Good thing is that its still widely available today ( Due to its low cost ), those amazing '' Sparklers '' . In our days its a firework for most folks like us, as it was affordable. If I am not wrong it cost around 20 cents for a pack of 20 sticks..!! How could we ever forget those amazing & fun ... '' Sparklers '' !! The main joy was borrowing someone else fire while yours is about to burn out ... Yee Haa !!
The climax of it comes on the last day of the lunar new year ... Yuen Shiao or better known today as '' Chap Goh Meh ''. During my younger days back in the 50's & 60's, most families will try their best to light up the most and loudest fire crackers that they can afford. But it is those businessman, shop owners, traders and associations that fire the most ( in crates or rolls ) fire crackers. It's also a nightmare for our local town council sweepers to clean up, but most of them are duly paid with Hong Pao as a token of gratitude. The smell of the gun powder and the sight of red papers on the road and pavements signals the end of the lunar new year . Those were wonderful days of my childhood during the lunar new year. I believe most of you around my age couldn't have agreed more...Yee Haa !!
In today's fast moving and high tech world, where money above all else matters most, it's only natural that folks of this generation tend to forget our roots. They spend more time on their smart phones then even their love ones, let alone their parents. So, it's important to educate and instill some of our rich cultural heritage & tradition while they are young. Ours is a culture based on Filial Piety and respect for our elders, neighbour & friends. For it is their struggles and dedications that we are what we are today. Be proud that you are the descendant of the Dragon and above all, be humble and be at peace with all .
Regards .... Uncle James.