greetings16

Chinese New Year Isn’t Always the Best…

March 02, 2015 / by / 0 Comment

Now that Chinese New Year is over, it seems OK to now expose some of the faults of this excellent opportunity to GTFO out of school after school, which has only been on for a measly two weeks after our ridiculously long Christmas break. Theoretically speaking – feng shui speaking??- since CNY is over, I should hopefully be forgiven by the Chinese Monetary Gods (YES, that’s what 財神; literally: “God of Wealth”, and… thank you Wikipedia for giving us harmless kids the easiest and the most reliable source of information, which professors will simply never acknowledge because they’re upset that a child of 14 could quintessentially discover and summarise their life’s work with a click of a button).

Getting back on track…, being a homo sapien of the tribe of the Chinese, I have lived with this tradition of celebrating CNY ever since I was popped into this universe. Therefore, I feel awfully qualified to expose some of the ridiculousness that I have still yet to truly understand, despite my long history of being Chinese. Be prepared, this post is going to look like a hot CNY mess, for all you lucky people who don’t necessarily have to experience it first hand. Oh… I don’t necessarily hate CNY, but at times, I just dislike it with a passion. So sorry Money Gods, just got to hand it to you straight.

1. Everything is money related. If not money, then PR.

During any form of New Years celebrations, it is a custom for one to wish another Happy New Year, get in there etc. etc. But we Chinese people do not think it enough to just merely be happy because we all know that the ugly reality of the world is that happiness=money.

82fc42bcfa2fa89f0ab5cbec1e2dd9b9

As a result, to save us from the hassle of thinking of individualised gifts, we came up with the best present that would make everyone happy, which is mad dollas ($$$), in the form of lai see (red packets!) Unfortunately the sad reality in Hong Kong is that it has become a custom to give people’s pets, who have absolutely no clue what these sheets of multi-coloured paper are, lai see. My aunts corgi probably gets more lai see than me and she probably ISN’T EVEN CHINESE.

CNY is all about a thing called reciprocity. And the Chinese only know how to do it best by giving the gift of money, because we all know money can’t buy you claaaaaaasssss (a la countess luann) is the solution to all problems (proven by that wondrous and ridiculous equation drawn up by men about women circa 2006). So if you were my Mum, and it’s become a ritual for your family to do Sunday Yum-Cha at the most crowded restaurant for the past year, you would slip the receptionist couple-a-bucks to hopefully make your waiting-in-line life for Sunday Yum-Cha less like a living hell for the next coming year.

Also it is perfectly usual for one to give out nice and generous greetings when celebrating a holiday or festival. For example, during Christmas and New Years, we would have “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year”. During CNY we cut to the chase, and greet you with what you secretly wish yourself every night before you sleep, “Hope I/You get loaded this coming year”. The Chinese waste no time hiding the fact that everyone only ever really wants to get rich tbh… I respect them for their complete and utter disregard for formalities and their blatant effort to hide the deepest and darkest secrets of the human soul.

CNY has also become a target for huge marketing ploys. You have prosperity burgers from McDonalds (LIKE WHAT? Prosperity and burgers… I really don’t see the connection). Not to mention… Some malls around Hong Kong thought it was OK to bring in goats for a marketing event.

“Hey… it’s the year of the goat so we brought in some goats… get it… get it? GET IT?!”

“oh… uh yea… uhhh… that’s great… uhh… goats. What do they do?”

“Nothing really. I mean at least… they’re here? I don’t really know why we have goats actually…”

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 2.41.58 pm

Source: Hong Kong Coconuts

2. CNY exposes the poor taste of celebration music we have, along with many other things aside from music.

I challenge anyone to attend one of those lion dance parties or any CNY celebration parties during the first day of the new Chinese new year without feeling the need to scratch out your own ear drums. Imagine trying to teach an orchestra of 5-year-old boys to play Beethoven with only cymbals, gongs, firecrackers, drums and any other form of un-elegant percussion instruments you can think of.  The other option is having the same 5 year-old boys and their counterparts, the other 5-year-old girls in ridiculous costumes (I was subject to this horrible sadness of what was called a performance that has traumatised the Oscar-winning actress in me), unwillingly screaming Kung Hei Fat Choi songs on repeat, be it live or the awful iTunes playlist that the mall brought for $5 on badkungheifatchoisongs.com.

Language… is a beautiful thing. It has the capability of beautifying anything ugly, or in other words, making tragic things seem not so tragic. We label these CNY festivities as traditions or rituals. But truly, we all know that it’s just a nicer way of saying “Nobody understands what you are doing. It looks ridiculous, it sounds ridiculous and it’s just a hot mess that is almost as good as ‘The Real Housewives’ franchise.

Case-in-Point:

hotmess

They even had to give the cat extra fake hands just so the poor thing looked like it really needed money to feed itself. Obviously those 24/7 nodding Chinese lucky cats you see in cabs are just not enough…

3. CHINESE SUPERSTITIONS OWN YOUR LIFE

Somehow we Chinese have managed to develop a 12938745235453 millennium long calendar of fortune. We have successfully calculated your entire life and when’s a good/bad day for who, what, when, where, why and how etc. Not to mention feng shui, burning paper-made ‘Snoy’ TVs and ‘Rolls Boyce’ cars for our ancestors who have probably never had the luxury to experience the rise of materialism.

And there’s definitely no doubt about any of this stuff. You can try doubting, but you’re probably wrong. There is a glooming pressue to not doubt the wheel of fortune because once you begin, there is basically no turning back, you will suffer from bad luck for the rest of your life. It’s this illuminati-esque superstitious pressure, perhaps this is where communism found it’s roots, too not rebel or turn against this unspoken superiority because Chinese tradition is basically the poster-child of governing through fear, not Panem from ‘The Hunger Games’ (where not to mention my beautiful JLaw did an impeccable job at screwing over and the funny, or not-so-funny fact that Mockingjay was banned from screening at some theatres in Thailand).

4. The amount of sweeties, boxes of cookies (/sugar), chocolates and every cheap box-able thing you can buy/brought/given/received is unreal

It’s tradition for one to buy a box of candy/sweetie as a gift to that special person’s home you visit. By now, if you do your own grocery shopping, you would’ve realised that you suddenly feel claustrophobic due to the caving in of the unnecessary boxes of calories surrounding your miniscule existence. The sad thing is, nobody really eats any of these things and it ends up sitting in your house collecting dust because the treats are probably sweeter than blending Charlie and the Chocolate Factory together with 5 million pounds of sugar, then drinking it straight. It seems as though for one week every year we could forget about all the dietary advancements we have made in the last couple of centuries.

I’d rather you get me a cheap bottle of wine so we could both get wasted and forget that we’re celebrating this god forsaken holiday we’ve probably seen each other for the 10th time this holiday and that the coming 11th will probably only make me hate you just a little more.

5. Gambling madness, like OK you got lai see, but that doesn’t make you the next Bond Poker-gambling-god

Aside from corruption, the Chinese also rock at gambling. If there is any one race that is lives on gambling, it would be the Chinese. Case-in-Point: Macau, and my Grandmother who left my mum and her brother, who were 5 and 3 at that time, outside a casino. The gambling starts when the horribly fat diet begins to mix with horribly acidic alcohol that even Russians would find it hard to stomach. Somehow we gamble to further celebrate and brag about our individual wealth and fortune. Gambling really isn’t that bad when you do it every once-in-a-while. But gambling is absolutely unbearable when it is coupled with your drunk rowdy aunts, your chain-smoking uncles, your angry grandmums who just lost the same amount of money as their gold teeth at mah-jong, the rascals called “your younger cousins” who will not stop fighting over your PS4 (which is your precious because you’ve spent all your hard-earned mad dollas on buying), and you (who probably wants to murder a bunch of kittens to make everyone shut up and stop).

All in all, CNY is just an excuse for Chinese people engage in being a hot mess and not have to apologise for it for a week or two. I don’t really hate it as much as I say I do but I think it’s safe to say that I do not stand alone in this not-so-CNY-loving boat. Nevertheless, CNY is ultimately one of the best holidays to reunite with family and have cringe-worthy conversations. Who would say no to that?!




COMMENTS