Three random thoughts from a Hong Kong millennial.
1. It seems like the Chinese New Year experience had changed into a completely different one without me realizing it. As a kid, Chinese New Year celebrations would start weeks before the actual new year, when my grandmother would come over to my place and spend the whole day making yau gok (deep-fried dumplings). Then there’s the weekend of frenzied shopping for candies, new clothes, new bedding, new underwear.
On the first day of Chinese New Year, I would wake up really early, hours before the first visit, to open the candies box and treat myself to a candy buffet, all before I even brushed my teeth (which felt like the most badass thing ever). We’d usually enjoy a CNY movie that’s playing on TV, help mom pack the lai see pockets, then put on the new clothes we’ve been saving for the holidays.
During our rounds of visits to relatives’ place, I would remain utterly excited about eating CNY cakes, especially neen go (sweet cake). I actually waited until the 15th day of the New Year to open my lai see money. When it came time to put away our CNY flowers and candies box, I was seriously sad.
2. But at some point, those things just straight-up lost their appeal to me. I can shop for new clothes and candies all year round (and unlike before, with my own money). I don’t get that excited about candies anymore. I’ve learned about this horrible thing called diabetes.
On the first day of Chinese New Year, I wake up way too late. There’s no time for candies, no time for packing lai see, only barely enough time to get ready. My capacity for CNY cakes also decreased by such an extent, I feel terrified just thinking about the never-ending stream of neen go my many relatives would pan-fry and serve. As soon as I get home, I unwrap my lai see money. I even feel a little bit guilty about taking money from adults, now that I’m an adult too and am earning my own money.
3. This is not to say that growing up is horrible. In fact, I’m happy about it. Without all that candies distracting me, I can experience the real meaning of CNY, which is essentially a family finding time for each other, treating each other to good food, and wishing each other well in the coming new year. It’s really a group of people, who can be really mean to each other at times, choosing to be kind and pleasant. Which is just lovely.
Kung Hey Fat Choy!