Chinese Reunion Dinner is held once a year on the eve of the lunar new year. Family members from far and wide where ever possible return to the patriarch's home for a reunion dinner. It gives them the opportunity to meet up with relatives and also to introduce the new arrivals. According to tradition, dinner has to wait until the arrival of all family members before starting.
In 1970s, one to two weeks before the Chinese New Year, Jurong indurstrial estate was a dead place. Almost all Malaysian workers had left for home to be with their families. Food establishments, such as restaurants, eating houses and food centres once crowded with lunch time workers, stopped operating.
Today, many Chinese Singaporeans do away with reunion dinner by going on holidays. Few want to cook and they book reunion dinners at restaurants. With two sittings, each has about two and a half hours. More time is spent eating than interacting with family members. Afer dinner, each leaves in different direction. Such runion dinner becomes meaningless.
My family still follow the tradition of having the reunion dinner at home. My wife is a good cook, especially with peranakan dishes. On Saturday, 17 Jan 2009 we had a pre reunion dinner with with my niece and her family of four, plus two very close friends who are single. We started it a few years ago and has become an annual affair. My niece's husband is a Malaysian and she has to be with her in-laws for the new year. A close friend is also a Malaysian and she too has to go home. The food my wife cooked were: buah kurak, kiam chye ahk, babi arti, ngoh hiang, hi pioh soup, noodle and pineapple salad, chap chye, sambal udang, itek sioh and satay babi (view video clip).
The reunion dinner on the eve of the Chinese New Year shall be confined to my immediate families.