“Some Chinese New Year (CNY) traditions are just plain superstitious, expensive and are not practical”. Many busy professionals are abandoning the Chinese New Year preparations and some even plan to go on holidays abroad so they do not need to celebrate the festival and spend money on “ang pows”.
The Reunion Dinner
The Chinese New Year has lost much of its lively colourful communal spirit as old customs are giving way to modern preferences for mall shopping or holidaying overseas. Even the classic time-preserved activity of “Reunion” dinner at home is being replaced by the family going out for their much-awaited meal of the year at commercial restaurants outside the home.
In fact nowadays, a lot the families are fragmented with their children studying and working overseas – so some do not want to make the yearly pilgrimage home as they caught up with their busy modern lifestyle overseas.
The Upside – A sense of cultural belonging
For me, Chinese Lunar New Year is always nostalgic and I feel we need to preserve our cultural identity and sense of community even if we are living overseas and in fast-changing modern times.
As I come from a big family and many of my siblings and their families are not living in KL, it still imperative that we try to get together to celebrate the spring festival as its only time in a year that the whole extended family gets together.
The downside – Irrelevant practices and activities
For some relatives and singles, such Chinese New Year season is dreaded time indeed. Some families like to compare their houses, cars and make comparisons. So if your career, wealth and single status are not in sync with the rest of the clan, you might feel out of place during such big family gathering.
It is said that Chinese New Year is the most money-draining time of the year as you have to withdraw all your hard-earned new minted savings and give out “Ang Pows” – red packets of money and buy new clothes and even usually cars so as to keep up appearances and prestige during such gatherings.
Striving for a Ying & Yang balance
I always believe in having the best of both worlds. Although we must adapt to changing time, it’s always good to hold on to our precious cultural heritage.
For many of us, the most important aspect of Chinese New Year season is about seizing the opportunity to get the extended family come together in harmony and unity. It is worth keeping the important annual tradition of reunion dinner so that we close the generation gap as everyone in the family gets to bond and catch up over a sumptuous banquet. Actually it is also a prime time to teach the younger generations some social skills and manners as well.
As the saying goes – “Ritual is important to us as human beings. It ties us to our our histories.”
So here is wishing everyone a memorable and prosperous Chinese New Year with your loved ones and keeping the CNY tradition alive!