Friday, January 20, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year


One of the greatest things about living in Penang, is that one can observe and partake in all of the varied cultural celebrations every year. The Christmas holidays are over and now Penang, Malaysia and Chinese all over the world prepare to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year 2012,  the Year of the Dragon. The official Chinese New Year is January 23, but the celebrations can last as long as 15 days. Most businesses owned by Chinese will be closed for about 4 days. So people who are used to eating in the local food courts and coffee shops, have to find someplace else to eat for a few days. Everything slows down to a crawl at this time of year. Except for essential services, not much work will be done for a number of days. Anyone wanting to have painting, electrical or carpentry work will have to wait until after the Chinese New Year. It is a time of celebration, not work.

For those people like myself, who are expats, this time of year is another excuse to eat. This year Chinese New Year closely follows the Christmas holidays, so the extra weight will easily pile on. Also for people like myself, who are privileged enough to have a close relationship with a local Chinese family, celebrating Chinese New Year with them is both an honor and a a fantastic experience. One again I am looking forward to enjoying the traditional Reunion Dinner of Steamboat, or as people in the West know it, Chinese Hotpot. Of course I will have to drink a few toasts with special Chinese wine from China. I think this wine actually doubles as rocket fuel. There will be many special dinners and treats all through the holiday period and I don't plan on missing any of them.

Aside from the wonderful food and sharing meals with friends, there are fireworks daily for the entire 15 days. As I am writing this blog this evening, I can see and hear fireworks displays, even though the official New Year has yet to begin. Firecrackers will soon be heard into the wee hours of the morning, every day for 2 weeks. It can sometimes be bothersome, but it is part of ancient tradition that goes back many hundreds of years, since the invention of gunpowder. I will try to share some photos and experiences of my 2012 Chinese New Year with readers of my blog in the next few  days.

But in the meantime I would like to wish all of my Chinese friends here, and in the US and all over the world, a very Happy Chinese New Year.

                Gong Xi Fa Cai

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