Chinese New Year (CNY) is now barely a week away; but here in Tampa, it might as well be just another hohum day. We can only imagine the atmosphere back home: vendors hawking CNY wares/food items, fireworks, and loudspeakers blaring Chinese/Cantonese songs, all featuring Gong Xi Fa Cai, or variants thereof, in some parts of the lyrics.
In fact, the theme of Valentine’s Day, which falls three days ahead of the CNY, is much more prominent here. Such is the reality of life, especially where one is a minority. Not only is any display of the festive mood restricted to establishments operated by ethnic Chinese, be they restaurants or grocery stores, but CNY is not recognized as a public holiday.
It’s during these moments of festivity that we reminisce of the “good” times back home marked by two consecutive public holidays: the prior preparation involving nightly trips to the night market to pick up all things red for good luck (this image, while taken two years ago in January 2005 courtesy of our good friend, Eric Ko, is a typical scene during this time of the year), the reunion dinner on CNY’s eve, the dishing out of ang pows (red packets) to kids of all ages as long as one is unmarried, followed by a visit to the local temple to express gratitude for the good fortune in the past year and to seek blessing for the coming year, and gathering of old friends who have not seen each other for eons, exchanging tall tales and recollecting nostalgic moments. Then there are the fireworks and pyrotechnic display, the acrobatic dragon dance, and machine-gun like blast of fire crackers (at designated localities), as well as CNY celebrations telecast on TV beamed from China, Taiwan, HongKong, Singapore, and the local production, Malaysia, all vying for the viewership of the local Chinese populace.
Another good friend of my wife back home, Nancy Ung, has always made it a point to send us CNY decorative designs, knowing full well that those things are hard to come by here. And they, in the ubiquitous red as seen here, do add some semblance of the impending CNY festive aura to our home.
As is the case during the Christmas season, sending and receiving CNY cards are a “chore” not to be trifled with: careful card selection with the right message tailored to individuals. We can all use some prospitious words, at least to set the mood right while ushering in the new year. This is especially germane for those in the business of making money, to put it bluntly.
Some are Chinese zodiac sign neutral, while others are specific such as the Year of the Boar that is 2007. With the advent of the Internet Age, these printed cards are gradually being replaced by the electronic version. Nowadays, there are many websites that provide free e-greeting card service for all kinds of festive seasons. Here is a sample of some that we have received.
And from the team at Going Global and aPleasant Surprise(s), here's wishing all Chinese bloggers and readers out there a prosperous year of the Boar!