05 February 2011

Reminiscences on CNY.

After reading this article I can’t help but to feel nostalgic about those good old days. Many who are in the same boat, if possible, would like to travel back to those good times.

Chinese New Year When I Was A Kid

by Sim Kwang Yang

chinese new year decorations 120207The happiest time of my life was spent in awaiting the arrival of the Chinese New Year.

I grew up in Kuching not long after Second World War. Malaysia had just been formed in 1963. It was a time of universal poverty, and Kuching was a two-horse town. Nobody was really rich.

The people who owned cars usually drove British models like Vauxhall and Morris Minor, and they were few and far in between. Everybody else went about their business on foot or on bicycle.

chinese new year 310108 firecracker

But Chinese New Year was the biggest festival of the year, and all Chinese celebrated the occasion with all they had. The arrival of the New Year was keenly awaited by every child.

There were good reasons for this. The New Year was that special time when the children got to eat a mountain of rich food and gulp down bottles of sweet, aerated soft drinks.

These treats were usually denied to young children on other days.

Long before the appearance of Coca-Cola, children were crazy about Green Spot, a festively coloured, orange-flavoured soft drink. At every Chinese New Year, there wou

ld always be a supply of this drink in every household and we children would gorge ourselves silly.

The Chinese New Year was also that rare occasion when we children could eat as much meat as we liked, at a time when eating meat was not common at all. We had not seen so much meat at the table for the rest of the entire year put together.

chinese new year 310108 lion

There would always be the typical Chinese New Year goodies displayed for guests and visitors. The mandarin oranges were a must, to be presented in pairs to all visitors, on their arrival in the house. Even in those poverty-stricken days, adults would always reserve a small ‘ang pow’ or two for children. The small gift of a ringgit or two was phenomenal wealth for the young children, to be spent on petty gambling.

The event that interested me the most, and gave me the greatest pleasure, was lighting fire-crackers together with a bunch of neighbourhood kids. Being poor, we could afford only to light one fire-cracker at a time so as to make our meagre stock last. For a period of a week or so, all our pocket money would go up in puffs of smoke.

The lion dance troupes brought with them the typical banging and clanging of the sounds of the New Year. The troupes went visiting each house in turn, and each family would give them a small ‘ang pow’.

Read more here.


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