Monday, January 26, 2009

Congratulations and be prosperous!

Kung hei fat choy! It's the first day of Chinese New Year! I'm hoping that there will be a dumpling outing later in the week. I am also considering alerting Kim to the tradition that considers it bad luck to clean the house during the New Year. I wouldn't want to vacuum up all the good luck. But, sadly, in my house it is also Wo de you tiao zao! Which is bad Cantonese for 'my cat has fleas'. Official flea sightings stand at two but I am suffering from imaginary fleas, which make one just as fidgety. We also seem to cursed with a plague of caterpillars, from tiny little specks with an outrageous appetite, to fat green ones and the skinny brown ones that masquerade as twigs. They all share a taste for the sprightly young growth of the plants in our garden. There was also the Unexplained Death of a Tomato Plant, that saw the brightest and best of the vegie patch cut down in its prime. The plant was mysteriously flattened, just like a spooky alien crop circle! Apparently the origins of the Chinese New Year spring from just such a circumstance. From the bible of stuff comes this:

According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian or "Year" in Chinese. Nian would come on the first day of New Year to devour livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn't attack any more people. One time, people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the colour red. Hence, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, the Nian never came to the village again.

So all we need is some firecracker action! I love Chinese New Year. Love the dragon, though I'm always too shy to touch it for luck. Love the lion eating bundles of lettuce. Love the noise of the crackers and the red banners with auspicious characters in gold. Love the red envelopes. Love that the Chinatown celebration here is filled with stalls of tax agents. Love any festival with such a focus on food. And this year is my year! I am an Ox, a symbol of quiet strength and kindness (and modesty).


Kim Roberts said...

I love firecrackers! I wish you were still able to buy them. Of all my childhood memories, that's the one I miss the most!

Sad isn't it?!?

Maybe I should take a trip to Canberra and pick some up?

Anonymous said...

HOHO, I'm sure my parents will be able to scare away lots of dragons with their enormous stockpile of illegal sky rockets!