Monday, January 23, 2012

chinese new year

my body is breaking down. Happy New Year of the dragon. I saw a gorgeous rainbow on the lake and suddenly the sun broke through the clouds illuminating Toronto at the horizon. It was beautiful. It made me think of the wizard of Oz when emerald city glitters at the horizon as Dorothy and the gang arrived close to the end of the yellow brick road. The city had this white cast while the surrounding areas were darker. So nice.

I love these types of surprises. On Friday I spotted a hawk/falcon at the Derry-Hurontario corner? A long lost friend I have not seen since last fall. Proud bird with a white chest looking for any imprudent rodents for food.It left after 10 mins. I'll never cease to be amaze at the grace of birds of prey especially when they glide in the sky: free.

I need a rest for my head. Even my days off are no longer enough. Yesterday I had dinner at my aunt's place and my mom called us for the New Year. My youngest brother is getting married in 2014. My dad and my brother were not there, having gone of their usual pagoda rounds to greet the new year. My mother could not go out because apparently it's not good for her horoscope because she's a sheep (chinese horoscope).

The water dragon year promises to be a good year and I do hope it is. 2010 and 2011 have drained me: so many losses, relocation, disasters. Apparently for my sign-rooster-2012's full of goodies..hah..we'll see. As much as I cannot live under the same roof as my parents due to difference in opinions and character, sometimes I wished I could go home for these types of festivals and get together.

I'm not a people's person but it's always nice to meet all your relatives, see their kids and listen to stories around the dinner table. I've never been much of a talker but love to listen to older people talk and my aunts gossip. I know time is ticking when I see my nephews who're growing so fast w/ each passing year.

I tried to imagine how it was at home:

On the eve there would be a get together for my aunts-uncles. On the table: 100 year duck eggs, fooyang, home made chinese sausage and porc, chop suey, white moss soup, and a meat plus chicken dish. During the day my aunts-mother would be busy in the kitchen cooking and making sweet potato cakes aka "gato zinzi". The men would spend the day playing mahjong. Earlier during the week, we would have been making "gato cravattes" amidst the crazy cleaning.

Most probably Sudesh was there and my mom shouting after him to make sure the windows are cleaned properly. Then dad will bring some of his pakistanese/bangladeshi workers to clean the yard w/ high pressure water. He also bought his crazy 10000 firecrackers which became longer w/ passing years.

This year the firecrackers were burned at 430 am to scare evil spirits on that special day. Then we would set up tables in front of the gods with the usual offerings of fruits, biscuits and dried dates/lotus seeds. One big incense to welcome the new year and 3 small ones for each god. Joster paper will be burned.

In the kitchen another table would be set w/ incense sticks, boiled chickens, fruits in set of 3, drinks either rum/soda for the ancestors-my deceased grand parents. The idea is for them to celebrate the new year and invite "their friends' to eat with them. One whole boiled chicken w/ a pair of chopsticks supporting its neck-a piece of sea food on its right and a piece of pork on its left.

On that day we are not allowed to sweep the house, to wash our hair because it meant washing away our luck.After lighting all the incenses, dad would take us on his pagoda rounds. Some places were filled w/ people and your eyes would water w/ the incense smoke. Pagode la rue la saline, pagode on marie reine de la paix mountain, ah fee see pagoda on la rue magon and pagode next to champs de mars. Ah Fee See pagoda was always the busiest and there would also be chinese lions dancing. We would greet happy new year to all the nuns and get "potpan"-a sweet brioche like pastry stained red. It had the taste of orange rinds.

While we were away, my mother would clean up the religious offerings, burns all the joster papers. The yard would be covered in red papers, remnants of the firecrackers. If i was home, after each firecracker burning I would visit my pouchies to make sure they were ok. We, humans are able to reduce the noise by covering our ears but not my doggies. Then I would make sure that none my plants had too much sulphur or firework remnants on them. I am surprised how they always survived each spring festival fireworks. Often some parts would die but always come back.

My nephews would come over to see their grand mother (my aunt) and play in the fireworks, and look for ay unburned firecracker. Dad called his fireworks "petards canons" because not only they were long but super 2 mins of "sweet" music.

After the pagoda rounds, we would all go back to bed after wishing everyone happy new year and giving foon pao-the red envelopes marked w/ double happiness and filled w/ lucky money. Lunch would be a vegetarian dish w/ meefoon, bamboos shoots, black fungus, lotus flowers seasoned w/ mustard: my favourite vegetarian dish. Sometimes there would be a typical chinese herbal soup made of goji seeds, dried dates-longane, lotus seeds,and lotus flowers. yummy.We would also give our neighbours the chinese festival goodies: a bag filled with gato cravattes, gato lacire and chipettes.

In the afternoon, there would be more people and a bigger dinner. some dishes would be a repeat of those on the eve and we would have sea food either crabs or lobster and extra plus wine or champagne. Getting together around dinner is something big in chinese culture. Everyone would stay late updating about the latest news and gossips. Desert would be the gato cravattes and chipettes and gato lacire.

I sort of miss these days. I write to remember, I write because I am afraid I will forget what I left behind in a few years. I'm not an advocate of traditions or what not but I don't want my parents to be the last generation of what my grand parents brought and I don't want to lose my childhood.

I don't know why so many things break my heart lately. I'm surely emo or pmsing..the joy of the female body. I could live without this body ..really..

ps when will there be a sequel to jonathan strange and mr norrell. The ladies of grace adieu left me on "ma faim"..

pps blogger sucks big pictures are not loading :/

1 comment:

  1. I was very interesting to read about your New Year traditions. :-) Thanks for sharing! Writing *is* a good way to remember.