Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feb10 - Hokkien New Year 2011

My dad is from Malacca, and my family is Hokkien. We celebrate the Hokkien New Year on the 9th Day of Chinese New Year.

A little history about this day : this day is particularly significant to Hokkien Chinese: on the ninth day of the New Year (it is said), the enemies of the Hokkien tribe banded together to wipe the Hokkiens from the face of the earth. As a horrible massacre ensued, a few survivors hid in a field of sugarcane. The heavens intervened, and the marauders left. Since then, Hokkiens have thanked the Jade Emperor for his intervention on the 9th day, making offerings of sugarcane stalks tied together with red ribbons. -  
 The reunion dinner among family members  is a must for Chinese New Year.
 My mom & maid had started folding our paper offerings a few days before hand. 
If you are a busy person & not able to make time to sit & fold, all you have to do is part with your  $$$ and buy readymade offerings from the shop.
Since our offerings are to the Jade Emperor, gold is the most deserving gift. Creations comes out as a gold nugget and gold bar (or try to look like it).
5mins before midnite, my dad would setup the prayer table at the front entrance of our house. Offerings like food eg. apple, orange, pineapple etc. Everything has to have a spot of red on it. If not, you can purchase a red paper, cut small round shapes then place on top of it.

I've been told that the day before this celebration, ppl flocks market purchasing flowers & sugarcanes (read history for explaination).  After the head of the family has done his prayers of lighting of joystick (prayer stick), then followed by others. We make our wish for the new year to the gods for good health and prosperity etc. When I was young, I would wish to pass all my exam, now I wish for me & my family's health & me earning more  money. Hey, just being realistic.
Next up is burning of our offerings to the gods. No, not the food. The gold paper. When we were young, the adults would be doing the work as fire was involved. Now, the next generation has taken over. Our folded gold, the sugarcane plus a paper castle. It's been said that when you see ashes rising up towards the sky, quickly make a wish. It'll be carried up to the gods on it.

I remember when I was in Brisbane, tradition was in my blood till I actually did this process on my own (at a much smaller scale. I setup the table at my balcony, at the stroke of midnite, did my prayers & burnt papers in a metal container (hoping my neighbors wouldn't call the fire brigade).
 My youngest cousin, Khai Vern & my poser, youngest bro

At a larger scale celebration, there are households who offer roast pig as well. We did once, but it seems like a waste unless you wanna have pig for a month. Also the looong loud fireworks. A little difficult at my house since we're located on the main road. The police would love to circle around our neighbourhood & fine us for it (fireworks is illegal in Malaysia unless you have a permit for it).
Last but not least, distribution of the food. After all offerings are completed, it's time to indulge for our hardwork. Food is shared among the family to be taken home as these are blessed meals. The whole celebration ended at around 2.15am. It's definitely a tradition I wanna keep.

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