Thursday, February 16, 2012

My first Chinese New Year in Melbourne

I know. I know. This post is long overdue. Just like my posts on my wedding and honeymoon. Those will come once my official pictures and videos are out. Do be patient with me. Chinese New Year (CNY) however, has come and gone. Would you believe it, I actually missed all the 'dong dong qiangs' that come with it?!
This is my first year away from home; my first CNY away from immediate family. Truth be told, I bawled my eyes out. I seem to be crying a fair bit since coming back eh. No worries, I am not preggers... yet. And I don't plan to be for awhile just yet. ;)
My aunt and her entourage from Brisbane came the day before the eve of CNY. It was nice to have family around but it just wasn't the same. I guess, my mum's side can be a rather handful bunch to be around with. Don't get me wrong. They love me and care for me (in their own ways) and I love them, too.
It's just that, sometimes, too much of something is just... too much. And with them, it's never simple and straightforward. And... plans are just not their thing.
That being said. My CNY eve, reunion dinner was held at my Melbourne Uncle's home. It's customary to 'Lou Yee Sang' during CNY, and apparently, I hear on the 7th day of CNY (this is news to me, imparted from Mr. C).

Yee Sang also known as the Prosperity Toss and usually makes up of shredded vegetables, sauces, condiments and topped off with raw fish is consumed during CNY in Malaysia and Singapore. All things Chinese, we do this as a form of prosperity, longevity and good luck for the Chinese Calender year. New Year greetings are usually uttered such as 恭喜发财 (gong zi fa cai), 万事如意 (wan shi ru yi), 年年有余 (nian nian you yu) and 大吉大利 (da jie da li) generally to mean congratulations on one's good wealth, may all one's wishes be fulfilled and abundance of good luck and may the year be smooth sailing.

Funnily, all we did was toss (apparently in Australian slang, this word is used to describe a dodgy activity according to MissSal who told me this in 2007 when I first visit Melbourne) and no greetings nor wise words were said. Lol. Just silence and erm... tossing.

I never liked the Yee Sang back home somehow. The tastes just never agreed with my taste buds! But whoa... the salmon was SO fresh with the 'salad' tasting pretty decent. After the 'opening' ceremony for the reunion, we proceeded to dig in to the other food of the night.

Another thing about Chinese people - doesn't matter if you're from China, Malaysia, Singapore etc. - we're very into prosperity, longevity and FOOD! So, every celebration is done with hoards and hoards of food!

Aunt F's Canto Chicken...

Roasted Duck we tapao-ed (take away) from Pacific Seafood House on Toorak Road

Brissie aunt's concoction of Thai salad

Melbourne aunty is BIG on fruits and I like it. It's very important to have lots of fruits and vege in our diet which we tend to neglect.

FUN FACT: Have you ever noticed the bottom of each mangosteen, there's a popped out shape of a flower like the above picture? And did you know that each petal represents how many pieces of fruit that is INSIDE the mangosteen?

Well, Brissie aunt's friend didn't believe me and proceeded to test out the fun fact and was pleasantly surprised to see that it is true! I thought it was common knowledge 'cos apparently, my mum's side of the family all know this.

The poor aunt was so fascinated that she decided to share it with my Melbourne Uncle (who was away from the main table when I shared this fact) who then exclaimed, "It's common knowledge and everyone knows about it." to which my cousin snickered. I thought it was a bit strong and harsh.

Oh well.

It was just a night of food and fellowship. My first CNY away from home and despite a reunion dinner with extended family, it still felt different. Despite my families imperfections and yearly CNY drama by a certain family member, I still miss them. And to top it all, they had reunion this year with all the relatives on my dad's side!!

It's been YEARS since we had such a reunion... actually, since my paternal grandmother's death! and that was more than a decade ago! And they had to do this reunion on MY FIRST CNY AWAY!! To top it all, they TAGGED me on FB in the family picture... bleh!

What is CNY without almond biscuits and PINEAPPLE JAM TARTS!!

Mr. C's love affair with passion fruit.

And that was basically it for the rest of CNY. There isn't much feel here. No sounds of fire crackers. No annoying CNY chinesey songs. You don't have the feel AT ALL! I didn't even see any proper lion dance! How disappointing...
It seems that many don't really celebrate this event since most of their relatives are back home in Malaysia. Besides, many actually take leave to travel home for this momentous BIG occasion. Who knows... maybe Mr. C and I can be back next year for it. Then again, it'll still be different since I'll have to celebrate it on his side instead of mine.
Oh well...
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