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18 Gong Xi Fa Chay

It means happy new year in Chinese.

When we were little, my brothers, sister and I used to always wake up early in the morning of Chinese new year’s day—Chinese new year’s does not fall on the same day each year, depending on the moon. It was exciting to be the first ones to welcome the new year!

According to the tradition, those who are married must give out hong baos—red pocket contains money in even-numbered amount—to children or the ones they know who are unmarried, for good luck. Back then, as kids, mom bought and made us wear those bright-colored clothes. Something red, something yellow, anything striking bright. No black, no, no.. it’s taboo! So superstitious!

The night before, prior to my departure to the land of milk and honey (better known as the US), my family and I almost always went to pasar malam or night markets to buy flowers, snacks, sweets, decoration and whatnot. It was so much fun to go around the market to see what they had in line for each year that new year brought, for instance this year is the year of pig.

To think of it, I have no recollection whatsoever of ever having had any Chinese New Year’s celebration here. Why? Because I’ve never had one in New York. It’s not a big deal there’s no ubiquitous sign that it’s a must-celebrated day. You can still feel the celebratory atmosphere in Chinese concentrated areas such as Chinatown. Then again, for someone who lives out East, you don’t, once again, feel the vibe. No lion dance, no firecrackers, no dumplings, no peonies, no hong baos, no red dresses, no Chinese music, no gong-hey, no family visits, no sweet tidbits, no salty peanuts, no worries?

In short, enjoy Chinese New Year wherever you are, while it lasts!