Can’t believe in less than 24 hours, it would mark the new year of Snake! I was going to be all emotional and sad thinking that this would be the first year Saucer and I celebrate Chinese New Year away from home, but I realized it’s not. The first year of being away during CNY was actually the year we got married. And the new year was celebrated in Maldives during our honeymoon. No complaints about that for sure, but being away on holiday and being away for good are two different things. This year, we will be celebrating CNY probably decorating our house and getting it ready for my parents and family who would be visiting us next week! So, I guess not all is lost. After all, the spirit of CNY is to be together with family and closed ones, is it not?
Speaking of CNY, we can almost never get away from CNY goodies. By goodies, I mean food, really. For me, one of the must-haves during CNY is Yee Sang, or raw fish salad if you must. To be honest, I don’t really love yee sang very much, but I do enjoy the process of mixing it around while chanting wishes and seeing everyone’s happy faces at the same time. The resulting product is not really that important to me, even though it’s a plus if it does taste good. For the past few years, we had had the pleasure of having Yee Sang for at least 5 to 7 days in a row at home. My parents would usually buy the first packet of yee sang for the first day, followed by my aunt and uncle on the second and finally the children take turns on the subsequent days. Of course, this tradition is still in place thanks to my grandparents who never fail to cook up a feast every day during the festival and making sure everyone comes back home to celebrate.
Another delicacy I love during CNY is Nian Gao or Sticky Cake. Believe it or not, I used to hate nian gao when I was young, thinking it smelled funny and was too gooey for my liking. My grandma, knowing that we, the children, didn’t like eating gooey and sticky stuff, improvised by making nian gao fritters. She used to fry them on its own, or sandwiched in between tapioca and taro slices, until they had crispy golden skin. Needless to say, they quickly became a hit and always disappeared faster than she could fry them!
Last but not least, who could forget about the CNY candies and cookies that are always abundant on the cookies tray? I used to have the task of distributing different cookies and sweets on different compartments of the tray, and never failed to steal a piece or two in the process. My favourite, without a doubt, is the peanut candies, which is really peanuts coated with caramel. They’re sweet, but I could go on and on eating them and end up getting a sore throat afterwards but I’d still do it all over again.
After enjoying these CNY goodies, does it make you wonder sometimes, how did they all come about? Why did we have tradition like this and whether they mean anything? Thanks to our elders, age-old Chinese New Year traditions are practised till this day. So let’s help keep them alive.