Thursday, February 26, 2009


Well it’s been almost three weeks since mum had her operation for her medical condition termed massive bleeding from a caecal diverticula.. It’s been a slow recovery for her and we, the children, who are care-takers as well. We hope for the best and are glad that we can afford to give her the best medical care at a good private hospital and also the healing that comes after that. Through it all, since mum’s heart by-pass operation last June, I have observed that time also brings out the best and the worst of us. Maybe we are so caught up with our own lives that we are unwilling to disrupt our day to day lives.

During the last op, my sister from London, who has nursing background, took a month’s leave to help her recover and the rest of us did what we could but more or less, really got away with taking care of her directly. Mum recovered very well. This time round, she couldn’t get leave so it fell on my eldest sis, my eldest bro, his wife and myself to help take care of her needs plus a supportive maid, courtesy of my eldest bro. The other family members do visit but are too far away to help out personally but do so financially.

I believe that peace of mind, a happy disposition, a positive attitude and support from everyone around her will aid in her recovery. Unfortunately, sometimes things do not happen as we plan. Mum remains slow to recover in body, mind and soul. She remains negative in ever recovering fully, and wonder what next to ‘cut up’ since she has had so much surgery done on her physically. She has had a major heart surgery and three knee operations and now an abdominal cut…wowo..can any sane person endure so much pain and so much trauma. I wish all of us, especially family members will take note of her condition and try to empathise, let us place ourselves in her position. We are all so busy with our lives, we believe that it is not our problem, this is her problem, we fail to see that it is something (anyone of her operations) that can happen to us one day in the future. I don’t question God, though mum has been doing that a lot lately, "what evil deeds have I done to deserve all these". Perhaps a priest can help her sought out her religious queries aside from counselling her on her despair and fears. As her children, we all don’t want to see her suffer more that is necessary in her journey of recovery but I hope everyone will be patient and play his or her role, and take note that one is susceptible to all ills, it’s just a matter of time, and also note that we will all grow old one day!

Remember, that when we were young, our parents took care of all our needs, how did she manage with 6 children and we can’t even manage with two of our own? Now it is our turn and we make so many excuses not to take care of one person. There is also dad but that’s another story…will write about that soon. Let us do what good we can today before it is too late, cos we should ask ourselves, how long more will mum or dad be with us? Remember, that one day when we are old and sick, we also want our children to take care of us, we want to be loved and cared about…I believe in karma..what goes round comes round…so I wish to thank everyone in the family, in-laws included, relatives and friends for your support and love in our times of need. I love u mum and dad!

So do your part and God will do the rest, he he.

Overtaken by events...

Hello everyone,

Hope everyone is in the pink of health.

Just in case everyone is wondering what's up with me...well my family and I are fine.
This was written sometime back but not posted due to everything being overtaken by events.

Why so quiet you say this CNY? Well friends, it has been quite a year for us last year, my mum had her major by pass heart operation in June 2008 and my dad with his deteriorating Parkinsons disease. I know 2008 also took away some of our dear ones...our sympathies.

Well the CNY was spent in Kuala Lumpur as my mum is still recuperating and they are with my brother here in Damansara. My parents haven't been in the best of health but they trudge on and we try our best to make them happy. Last Saturday, mum was warded in the ICU for internal bleeding. It was until last night that they located the source, near the caecum..large intestine..if u google u will see what I mean.. Due to her contiinuous bleeding, doctors tried to plug it with a coil but it was unsuccessful..and they finished at we waited till morning.
Today at ten, they decided they couldnt wait and a major op was carried out at 2.00pm today, they have since removed one third of her colon and tied up the rest...we just left her..she has been sedated with morphine but groans in pain as they have to cut up her soon after her heart op..we shudder at what she is going through...she is indeed a very strong person, anyway, docs say her surgery was a success, thank God...but we will all have to see about her recuperation...she is still in the ICU of course but we hope she'll be better enough to move to the normal ward in a few days time. Praise God.

Well just wanted to share my case you all are wondering what happened to us..I suppose all of us have our own stories to tell..but if we dont share no one will know right..we just wanted your prayers and thoughts...
we will also pray for everyone's good health and success this year and the years ahead. Age sure is catching up on us all, so take care everyone. Eat the right food and exercise!

Today is the last day of CNY-Happy Chap Goh Mei! It has indeed been a special CNY for us.

God Bless.
Lucia and family.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chinese New Year: Year of the Ox-2009


Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19-yearcycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.
The first day of the Lunar New Year is "the welcoming of the gods of the heavens and earth."

Chinese New Year Day is the first day of the first lunar month of Chinese calendar year. The Chinese new year day is always between January 20 to February 20 of the Gregorian calendar each year. The preparation to celebrate the Chinese New Year festival begins around 8th day of 12th lunar month. The last day of the Chinese New Year festival is on the 15th day of first lunar month. That means, it requires about three weeks to prepare for the festival and 15 days to celebrate it. Traditionally, a Chinese man works outside for a living and his wife takes care of everything inside the home. A month is not long enough for a housewife to clean the entire house, put new interior and exterior decorations, prepare new clothes and gifts for all family members, and food for many events. You can imagine that Chinese New Year festival combined with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year Day together.

To understand more about the 15-day Chinese New Year festival, we need to know some Chinese cultural background first. Thousands of years ago, China was mainly an agricultural society. Each year, the Dynasty government announced the annual calendar for farmers. The calendar contained the solar, lunar and weather information for people to know when to seed, plant, harvest on their land and even when to work, rest, pray and celebrate their activities. Obviously, farmers know they count on the sky for their living. The sky is connected to heaven and heaven is related to religion. The major activity of the religion is to pray to gods for good luck, wealth, health, wisdom, career, longevity, peace and happiness at the temple or at home.

Chinese New Year Eve - 30th (or 29th) Lunar day of 12th Lunar Month
Chinese New Year Eve usually is on 30th lunar day of 12th lunar month. However, a lunar month might have only 29 days. In this case, the Chinese New Year Eve becomes on 29th day of 12th lunar month. The next day will be a new moon day, which is the Chinese New Year Day.
In Chinese, Chinese New Year Eve is called Chu-Xi or Guo-Nian . Chu means removal. Xi means night. Guo means passing. Nian means year.

Original meaning of Nian is related to the farmer's harvest. Chinese Farmers celebrated their achievements for the past year, appreciated the gracious rewards given from the gods, and prayed for the same luck for the coming year.
Nobody knows when the legendary story about Nian began. Nian was a ferocious and carnivorous beast. It had lion-type head with elephant-type body. Nian couldn't find any food in the cold winter time, because many animals hibernated in the mountains. It must go down from the mountain to find the livestock. Later, it became a man-eater.

Nian was too strong to kill. Every winter night, people must stay inside the house. Years later, people found Nian was afraid of red, fire and noisy sound. So they cut red-color peach wood hanging on the door, made a campfire in the front of the door. When Nian approached the village, then people put the bamboo into the fire to make cracking sound. They also beat the metal kitchen and farming utensils to make noisy sound to scare Nian away.

People survived, celebrated and congratulation each other on the next day. People felt like a restarting point after passing the disaster. Then, they called Guo-Nian (passing Nian) as the day before the new starting day.

Events on the Day of Chinese New Year Eve

House cleaning should be ready on or before the day Chinese New Year eve. But most Chinese families are still very busy on this day. Early morning, someone has to go to the flower-market to buy flowers for worship events and new year day’s decoration. Red is the auspicious color in China. The pink peach flower and Japanese sakura are very popular choices for the flower arrangement.

The first event on the Chinese New Year Eve is to worship the Jade Emperor with flowers and fruits without animal sacrifices (top ranking gods are vegetarian) in the early morning to thank the gracious protection from the god of heaven in the past year and pray for safety, health and luck for the coming year.

Many families probably are still working on the final house decorations. They need to finish the decoration on doors and windows. Chinese calligraphers write the New Year's poetry on the red color paper and people pasted them on the top and both of sides of main-entry door. They said this custom comes from the story of man-eater Nian animal, which was afraid of red. At the beginning, people drew The God of Door images on the red-color peach tree wood hanging on the door to scare the devil spirit away. Later, Chinese use red color paper instead. There is an even simpler way is to write a single character on the diamond-shape red paper and paste on the doors, windows, containers, posts, storages and money safety boxes. The popular characters are Spring, Luck, Full, Money, Happiness, Wealth, Safety or Prosperity. Some are posted upside down, because the sound of upside-down in Chinese is similar to the word of come. So the upside-down MONEY poster means money comes. The upside-down LUCK poster means the luck comes.

A long time ago, the Chinese pasted the New Year paper-cutting arts on the windows. It's hard to find people doing this today, because it's required the experienced skill and lots of patience to create those art works. It's also quite time-consuming to put the arts on the windows.
In the afternoon around 2 or 3 P.M., the Chinese need to say good-bye to the current year by telling the gods and ancestors at family Buddhist altar with Nian-Gao (sweet rice cake), Fa-Gao (steamed rice cake), animal sacrifices (pork, duck, chicken or fish), fruit, drink, candy with big red candles. A long time ago, one thing important and special is to put a hundred coins tied with red thread and hope for good money luck and wish to live to 100 years old. Today, people put cash as much as you can instead.

After saying goodbye to gods and ancestors, women begin to prepare the reunion dinner. The main dish sitting on the center of the table is Hot-Pot. The traditional Hot-Pot is a big metal (alumni) bowel and has a hollow tube in the center. Chinese put hot bone soup in the bowel and cook different kind of sliced meat, seafood, vegetable, meat balls and seafood balls during the dinner. They put hot-rock or hot-coal inside the hollow tube to keep food warm. So they can eat the reunion dinner each for hours.

Chinese New Year day usually is close to spring, but it's very often that the weather is still cold. In ancient China, in order to eat the warm food, Chinese had to sit around the cooking stove for New Year Eve dinner. That's why this dinner is also called Wei-Lu , which means "surrounding the stove".
There are many dishes on the dinner table. Every dish has an auspicious meaning behind it. It's connected to longevity, reunion, perfection, good luck, health, diligence, satisfaction or promotion based on the homophone of the dish's name. Family members are supposed to have some from every dish. So they can eat and chat for longer time and share love and care during this time. However, Chinese don't touch fish on the table. This is because the homophone of fish is remainder, which means they have surplus or extra saving in the end of the year. On the other hand, they need leftovers for Chinese New Year Day - nobody cooks at home.

After dinner, that's a exciting time for the children. They are waiting for New Year's Hong Bao , which is a Red Envelope containing the brand-new money. Adults or parents will hand out the Red Envelopes to children, unmarried immediate family and their parents before going to the bed. Children will put all Red Envelopes under the pillow when sleeping. They said children can sleep well without bad dreams and become richer next year. The family expense increase sharply during the Chinese New Year period. Usually, Chinese receive year-end bonus of about one or two months salary pay. (The lucky ones can even have one year salary) from the company before Chinese New Year holiday. Therefore, most families can afford better food, clothing and decoration for Chinese New Year. Banks will prepare many brand new bills for people to exchange. That's why all the lucky money in the Red Envelope are brand-new.

The last event is the vigil to wait for advent of the new year. One main reason is to extend the parents’ lifespan. The sound of Sleepiness in Chinese is similar to Trouble. Sleepless means no trouble for the coming year. How can Chinese keep them awake? It's simple. They watch TV shows or Chinese New Year specials. The other way is gambling - playing Mah-Jong. It requireds lots of skill, memorization, calculation, strategy and luck to win the money. Since you have to concentrate fully, you will feel the time pass quickly. Usually, they will play Mah-Jong all night long, because the losers wouldn't quit!

The most popular sweet cakes are Nian-Gao and Fa-Gao . In Chinese, Nian is Year and Gao is Cake. So Nian-Gao means Year Cake. Since Nian-Gao is made of glutinous sweet rice and. Nian has the same sound with Chinese character Sticky. Nian-Gao is also called Sticky Cake. Fa literally means Prosperity. Gao has a similar sounds to Chinese character High. Eating Fa-Gao helps people's career, wealth and health to go a step higher.

Today, many Chinese directly buy the Nian-Gao and Fa-Gao from the supermarket. Nian-Gao can be cut into pieces, then fry or deep-fry it. Nian-Gao is very taste right after frying. Fa-Gao can be re-heat or re-steam before serving.
Many people will gather outside the temple after reunion dinner, everyone wants to be the first person of the year to be blessed by the God. There is the first incense stick race at many temples every year. One the first second of Rat hour, 11 P.M., as soon as the temple's main gate is opened, people will dash into the temple to insert the incense stick into the incense container. The winner will win a big Red-Envelope from the temple. But the most important thing is the winner will be very lucky in the coming year.

After receiving the Red Envelopes, young people like to go outside for the vigil of the year. Before midnight, they gather with friends or relatives around park, riverside or tall buildings to wait for the Chinese New Year fireworks.
Chinese New Year Day - The First Lunar Day of The First Lunar Month
Chinese New Year fireworks will open the event for the Chinese New Year festival. The sound of firecrackers tells people the new year has arrived. People offers the New Year's greetings while they are watching TV shows, enjoying the fireworks, asking luck at temple or gambling. The most popular greeting is Gong Xi Fa Chai (Cantonese pronounces Gong Hay Fat Choy), which means "congratulations and make a fortune." The firecracker and congratulations greeting are from the story of animal Nian. "Make a fortune" is to wish people wealth, because Chinese love to talk about money.

Some Chinese family change into new clothes right after midnight or the Rat hour in the Chinese New Year Eve. Then, they choose the lucky hour from Chinese Farmer's Calendar to worship spirits and ancestors with candles, fruit, rice cake, tea, long noodle and candies. The purpose of this worship to tell spirits and ancestors the new year arrives. In the end of the ceremony, they will open the door, select a lucky money direction to explode the firecrackers, which means to get rid of old bad stuff and welcome the new coming. Some Chinese families give the Red Envelope to children at this time, then the children go to bed.
After dawn, it's time to say Chinese New Year greetings to neighbors, friends, coworkers, and relatives. Previously, school teachers will go back to school to greet each other. Government employees will go back the office to say happy new year. Now, many people say Gong Xi Fa Chai by phone via sms or send the greeting by e-mail.
On Chinese New Year day, Chinese eat the breakfast without meat from the New Year Eve leftover. At noon, they have to worship the Spirit of The House with simple animal sacrifices, vegetables and rice. At the evening, they worship family ancestors again with full dinner food.
In the morning, all the children are supposed to wear new clothes, pants, shoes, hat or jacket. Every family should prepare many different kinds of sweet candies in a tray for people visiting their houses. If a child goes with an adult to visit someone and says Gong Xi Fa Chai, he can receive a Red Envelope. In Taiwan, the president, city majors and temples will prepare many Red Envelopes for their supporters. Since the number of Red Envelopes is limited, people have to go earlier and wait in a long line in order to have a handshake and Red Envelope.

Chinese New Year day is close to the early spring. That means it's a beginning of blossom season. The popular flowers for Chinese New Year are orchid, narcissuses, peach flower, chrysanthemum, kumquat, cherry blossoms, camellia and so on. So some people like to visit the flower garden or attend flower expo to enjoy the sight of flowers or bring some flower pots home.
Some Chinese would like to take whole family to countryside to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Some like to go to the temples to see the crowd and pray for coming luck. Today, more young people go to department stores to spend their Red Envelope money and shop for the New Year special bargains or go to movie theater with friends. Certainly, some still like to sit by the Mah-Jong table to earn money.

It's getting less possible to see the lion dancing or dragon dancing on the modern city street. People have to go to national culture streets to see the Chinese New Year traditional activities. Over there, people can see lion dance, the god of money, parade, open theater opera, puppet show, etc. They also can buy different traditional candies, their zodiac animal symbols, food, gifts from the culture stores.

The Chinese keep the lion dancing custom because that they think the lion image can expel the evil spirits away. The Chinese also believe that dragon is in charge of rain. The dragon dancing is praying for appropriate rain to water the crops during the farming season. Also, the dragon is an auspicious and notable symbol which can bring people luck. You can watch the Dragon Dancing video from the following links - video 1 video 2 photos.

The unique style of music for Chinese New Year can be heard at Chinese New Year Music (MP3). You can hear music from department stores, radio stations, TV stations, and during the lion dancing or dragon dancing on the street.

There are some taboos on the Chinese New Year Day:

1. Since everybody is in a festive mood under a joyful and hilarious atmosphere, people shouldn't argue with each other. Also parents shouldn't scold or punish the children. Otherwise, you will have more arguments in the new year.
2. Women shouldn't use knife or shear in the kitchen, which indicates evil, anger, danger and cutting out the luck. As a result, women don't cook new dishes on this day, people eat meals from the leftovers.
3. Breaking dish plate, bowel or cup means bad money luck coming. In case that happens, then Chinese put all broken pieces in a round container until the coming trash day.
4. A married women shouldn't go back to her mother’s home, otherwise her mother’s family will get poorer.
5. To sweep the floor or dump the trash will take away the wealth and luck from the house.
6. Don't have a lunch nap at noon, otherwise people will be lazy year long.
7. To wash the hair will wash your good luck away.
8. Don't wear in black or white to visit friends, because black and white are funeral colors in China
9. People shouldn't visit friend's house, if they have a family member that has just passed away.
10.Don't eat rice porridge in the morning for breakfast, otherwise you won't get rich because only poor people eat rice porridge in the past.
11. Don't eat meat in the morning breakfast, because many gods who are vegetarians arrive New Year Day festival in the morning.
12.Don't wake up people by calling their names, otherwise that sleeping person needs people's push all year long.
13.Don't eat unnecessary medicine, otherwise you will become unhealthy this year.
14.Don't wash clothes, because New Year Day is the birthday of the god of Water. 15.If someone owes you money, do not ask for the money back on this day. Otherwise, you will do it often in the rest of the year.
16.Don't let people take anything away from your pocket or purse, because that's a sign of money loss in the year.

The Second Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Day of Son-In-Law
Many Chinese families worship the God of Land every 2nd and 16th lunar day. This is the first time of the year to worship the God of Land with animal offerings and ask for safety and luck. Some Chinese will eat dumplings because it is shaped like the ancient Chinese money - gold ingot.

The big event for this day is that a married woman can return to her mother’s home. Usually, the newlywed woman's brother will come to take her sister home in the morning. The husband must escort his newlywed wife to see his parents-in-law. Certainly, the married woman needs to prepare Red Envelopes for her parents, nephews and nieces. The lunch time is their reunion dinner. The married couples will leave after 3:00 PM. Long time ago, married woman will bring back a pair of sugar cane and a pair of chickens. Sugar cane represents the sweet married life while the chicken stands for more children.

If some married women's parents have passed away, then they either stay at the husband’s house or return to her eldest brother's home.
If every married woman returns her mother home on the 2nd lunar day, then the husband’s house might be without women's hands to entertain his married sisters. Therefore, some married women return home on the third lunar day.

The Third Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Red-Dog Day and Mice Wedding Day
The third lunar day of the year is Red Dog day according to Chinese Farmer's Calendar. Red Dog is the name of the God of Anger, who brings bad luck to people. So people don't like to go out on this day, otherwise they can lose temper easily and have argument with others. Actually, After 2-day celebrating, eating, drinking, playing, gambling, many people are tired and might get up very late. They said that if people want to work on this day, they won't get much progress. Therefore, the Red Dog day is a good excuse for people need a rest.
They also said that people should turn off the lights and go to bed early, because the night is the Mice's Wedding Day and we shouldn't disturb them. The other saying is we want to make it dark, so mice have difficulty to making the wedding, which can slow down mice's breeding. In the old farmer society, people will leave a few of rice cakes in the corner of a room for the mice at night.

Anyway, to get up late and turn in early is for those people who were busy to prepare for Chinese New Year festival since last December have a chance to take a break.
Some people bring trash, which accumulates since Chinese New Year Eve, outside the house on this day. They said that's to sweep out the Poor Spirit from the house.

The 4th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - Welcome the God of Stove Back
On the 24th of 12th lunar month, The God of Stove went back the Heaven to report his duty. The God of Stove will return the house on the 4th lunar day of Chinese New Year.
Since the Heaven is far away from the Earth, it will take almost a day for The God of Stove to travel down to Chinese family's kitchen. The God of Stove must leave the Heaven in the morning. He should arrive people house in the afternoon. Therefore, the Welcome Ceremony will be in the afternoon. This is the same for the Farewell day, Chinese prepare animal sacrifices, fruit, food, cake and wine to worship The God of Stove. After the Welcome Ceremony, Chinese families will burn firecrackers to welcome The God of Stove back into the house.

The 5th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - Open Business Day - Welcome the God of Wealth
After a 4-day vacation, people are ready to go back to work. Most of companies will open business on the 5th lunar day. Many Chinese always select an auspicious hour from Chinese Farmer's Calendar to open the company door. Company owners who have faith in religioun will worship the Gods of Wealth with animal sacrifices before opening business. After the ceremony, they will burn a long string of firecracker to get people's attention. Today, some cities ban firecrackers, people play the recoding sound of firecrackers from tape or DVD players instead.
The lion dance team will parade on the street with the sound of drums, cymbals and firecrackers. They wait for the stores to invite them to have a lion dance fore- opening their business. Then lion dance team will wish the store a prosperous business and bring in wealth and propserity all year long. Then, they will be rewarded with a Red Envelope from the store owner after the performance.

Sometimes, we can see someone wearing the God of Wealth's mascot to ask Red Envelope from the opening stores. Many store owners are reluctant to give away the Red Envelope. But no store wants to turn the God of Wealth away.
The exploding sound of the firecracker tells people the company is ready for business and ask people to come into the door. Usually the first customer might get a Red Envelope from the store owner. It's very important that a company cannot fail the first transaction of the year.
The New Year Greeting Party of schools, big corporations or government departments should be held on New Year Day. But many people don't want to spend valuable time on the New Year day; so many organizations move the New Year Greeting hours on this day.
Also, the 5th lunar day is a trash day. All trashes collected from the New Year Day Eve, finally, can get rid of it from the house. Everything should return to normal.
Who is the God of Wealth? There are more than one the Gods of Wealth.

The 6th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - Clear-Water Master Day (The God of Pig Day)
This day is the death anniversary of the Clear-Water Grand Master. The Master was a monk in Sung dynasty. He prayed for rain many times to save people during the drought. He persuaded people to build many bridges and to plant trees. Many miracles happened after his death. Once he lived at Clear-Water Rock Mountain. So people call him Clear-Water Grand Master. His temple will have a big ceremony on this day. Many people are still on holiday vacation and will attend the ceremony.

In Taiwan, there is a contest for the title of the God of Pig at the temple of Clear-Water Grand Master. The heaviest pig can win the title. The 2007 winner pig was close to 2000 lbs. All the contest pigs will be killed, haircut, colored and shown their back on the truck. Because the God of Pig is so heavy, the owner can sell pork for more than a million Taiwanese dollars!
The traditional Chinese opera will be invited to perform on the street for days to celebrate this special festival.

The 7th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Human Day
According to Chinese genesis, the goddess with snake body (2852-2738 B.C.) created chicken on the first day of the first lunar month, dog on the 2nd day, sheep on the 3rd day, pig on the 4th day, cow on the 5th day, horse on the 6th and human on the 7th day.
The goddess made many human using mud mixed by yellow soil and water. Also she taught humans about the marriage; so human can reproduce themselves. Therefore, the 7th lunar day of the year becomes the human's birthday.
Almost no Chinese celebrate on this day. Some people just eat potatoes with angel hair noodle. The long noodle stands for longevity. On this day, the Chinese will eat seven kinds of vegetables (celery, shepherd's purse, spinach, green onion, garlic, mugwort and colewort) on the human day, or yan yat which can repel the evil spirits and sickness away.

The 8th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Completion Day

The holiday for government and business company ends on the 5th lunar day. But some people take long days off until 8th lunar day. The Completion Day means people should return from the holiday vacation and go back to work. All the meat and cake prepared for Chinese New Year should finish on this day. Everything should be back to normal.
The 8th lunar day of the first month is also the birthday of Yen-Lo King, who is 5th king of Legendary Hell in 5th palace.

The 9th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Birthday of King of Heaven - Jade Emperor
According to Taoism (Daoism), the Jade Emperor lives in the 33rd heaven and governs 33 heavens; so he is the king of heavens. Jade Emperor is a vegetarian. To celebrate his birthday, Chinese prepare three bundles of long noodles, three tea cups with green tea, five different kinds of fruit and six different kinds of dry vegetables to worship Jade Emperor. But people also prepare five animal sacrifices, different sweet cakes and turtle cake (turtle is a symbol of longevity) on a different table for the Jade Emperor's guardian soldiers.
To show the sincerity, many people take bath on the 8th lunar night, then wait for the first minute of 8th lunar day to begin the ceremony with their clean body. After the ceremony, Chinese burn the firecrackers. That's why we can hear the scattered sound of fire crackers from midnight to sunrise. The temple of Jade Emperor will be crowded as the Chinese New Year day since the night of 8th lunar day for those people unable to hold the worship event at home. For the same purpose, Chinese always pray for better luck, safety, health, love or money, when they visit the temple.

The 10th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Eating Day
On the next day of the Jade Emperor's birthday, there are a lot of food left over from the birthday's ceremony. People have to take care of all the vegetables, animal scarifies, cakes and fruit on the 10th lunar day of the year.

The 11th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Break Day
There is no special event on the 11th lunar day. Some families will invite daughters and sons-in-law back to the house to enjoy the final meal left from Jade Emperor's birthday feast.

The 12th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Diarrhea Day
Many people keep eating with greasy food from Chinese New Year Eve for 11 days. They might have a trouble for diarrhea on this day. For some people have to begin to prepare the Lantern Festival, which is on the 15th lunar day.

The 13th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Death Anniversary of General Kuan Yu
All the festival food would probably be gone on the 13th lunar day of the year. People just eat something simple on this day. This day is also the death anniversary of General Kuan Yu. Some Chinese will visit the temple of General Kuan to pray for safety and money luck.
Kuan Yu was a general in Three Kingdom period, (2211-263 AD), after the late Han Dynasty. He killed a bad guy and disguised himself with a red face when young. He helped his friend and tried to recover Han Dynasty. People remembered his bravery and skill in fighting, his righteousness, loyalty to friends, faith and acts of justice. But his life ended when he was beheaded. After his death, his spirit wouldn't die and his divine image appeared in the sky several times. People worship General Kuan Yu to repel evil spirits away. Also, some Chinese treat General Kuan as a God of Wealth. This is because General Kuan won hundreds of battles and business people want to win the battle in their business deals.

The 14th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Lantern Decoration Day

The day before the Lantern Festival, the Lantern Display stage will be built on the open square in front of temples. People will bring their designed lanterns to the display stage for the competition. A dedicated lantern might take more than a month to complete. The ancient lantern has a candle inside to keep it bright. Candles might cause a fire. Today's lantern is lighted up by battery or electricity. Therefore, people need to test the lantern at night. If any performance on the Lantern Festival will have rehearsals on this day.
Before adult made lanterns for children on the 14th lunar day. Now children can go to the store to find and buy their own lanterns. The most popular lantern is always related to the Chinese horoscope animal of the new year.

The 15th Day of Chinese New Year Festival - The Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival is called Yuan-Xiao Festival in China. This is because Chinese eat Yuan-Xiao on this day. Yuan-Xiao just look and taste like Tang-Yuan (See Winter Solstice - Tang-Yuan Day) . The difference is the way they made.
The Lantern Festival is also called San-Yuan (upper period of the year) Festival in Taoism. This day is the birthday of the Heaven Officer who blesses human luck. So many people have a worship ceremony at home and some go to Taoism temple pray for luck.
Yuan-Xiao Festival is a traditional Chinese festival going back to the Han Dynasty of over 2000 years ago. There is a story about the Lantern Festival. A beautiful heavenly bird flew down to a village and was killed. The God of Heaven was very angry and wanted to burn down the entire village on the 15th lunar day. One wise man advised every family to hang candle lanterns around the house, carry lanterns on the street, burn the firecracker at the 15th lunar night. The soldiers of the God of Heaven saw the village was on fire from the heaven, and returned back to the heaven. The village survived and people keep the lantern activity on this day every year.
Today, not too many children carry the candle lanterns on the night of 15th lunar day. But lantern displays are shown in the town center square or next to the temple. The most popular lantern is the animal symbol of the Chinese calendar year. The gods, saints and fairy of Taoism or historical figures are popular and common subjects.
Besides the lantern display, a traditional riddle games will be held in the temple. The questions are related with to the lantern displays, news or popular persons in town. When the game begins, the person who figures out the answers first, can win a prize.
Lantern laser shows, flying sky lantern or ‘kuomintang’, mass firecrackers, fireworks and music concerts are essential activities. The events continue all night long.

In Malaysia, we celebrate Chap Goh Mei. In Hokkien dialect, it means the 15th night of Chinese New Year. It is celebrated with paryers and offerings to mark theend of the CNY. Houses are again brightly decorated with lights for the least day of the celebration. Legend has it that young unmarried women who throw tangerines into the sea will find a good husband. So you will find this happening near rivers and on bridges. After this day, it is business as usual and everyone is looking forward to the next Chinese New Year.

This year, we celebrated CNY with my parents at my eldest brother’s house in Sunway Damansara. The previous two years, we had our CNY at my younger brother’s place in Ayer Molek, Johor. All members of my family returned for the reunion dinner, except for my sister in London, she couldn’t get leave this time. This year, our family members totalled twenty-one. They all stayed on for three days and went back to their respective houses. It was quite a reunion as usual, so much eating, playing cards, ginrummy, and just having fun keeping each other company. I think it was quite a good gathering…thank God my girl managed to get a ticket home at the last minute, but it was filled with horror stories of the air-conditioner breaking done and sweating for most of the journey. Anyway, she was only back for three days and had to go back to NUS, her lectures started in third day of CNY. Still she’s doing well and enjoying her studies.

Well, in a few days time it will be Chap Goh Mei, the 15 day and the last day of the CNY. Find out more via this website: You can visit:

To everyone celebrating CNY, I would like to wish all of you a fantastic OX year, have a great bull run and perhaps amidst all the economic gloom, let’s enjoy till the cows come home!
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