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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner 2

*Fast backward, I remembered my 2 grandmothers and my mother were busy at the kitchen preparing for the important meal. There was no gas/electric cookers then. Cooking was done on a specially constructed cooking range of cement and mortar. Firewood or charcaol was used as fuel. Eating was at an elongated oval wooden table that could sit about a dozen people at the dinning room. There were Peranakan food as well as typical Hokkien cuisine. We had ayam curry. Eating chicken meat was a treat then as it was served only on a festival or a celebration. Adults had tea or brandy and the children drank Fromroz aerated water. We had no refrigerator. We bought a block of ice and then knocked it into pieces with a hammer. Pieces of ice was added to the drink to make it cold. Dinner was rather quiet as no one was supposed to talk while eating. After dinner it was different. There were so much noises with adult getting kaki to play mahjong or cards, and children got excited talking about ang pows.

Last night we had Chinese New Year's eve re-union dinner. There was a foreign lady with 2 kids. The two boys are my daughter's God sons. Nevertheless, they had to observed our tradition of wishing the Patriach happy new year. See their postures. We started with 'loh hei', tossing of fish salad and followed by yummy steam boat. Enjoy viewing the video below.

A very close friend who seldom missed our family gathering

My two daughters 'pai nien'. She observed the tradition of kneeling.

Lo Hei!


We had steam boat for a change

Kids and maids at another table

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner - 1

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.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Chinese New Year Cards

A Happy & Blessed Chinese New Year To All Viewers

This card was specially created for a Vietnamese couple

Yesterday I went to Chinatown and saw a lot of interesting and fanciful Chinese New Year cards on sale. They were in all shapes and sizes, and very colourful too. Still, I prefer the personalised new year cards that I made myself as shown above.

During my school days in early 1950, a photo studio along Upper East Coast Road was offering black and white Chinese New Year cards with your photo on them. There was no colour photo then. The greeting cards had different sceneries of spring time and new year greetings. Minimum order was at least half a dozen cards. I forgot the price.