A more expensive Chinese New Year

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.

— Chinese Proverb

HOW many days will your office break off for the Chinese New Year?

My niece, who is working in Singapore, told me that her office would be taking a ten-day break.

“If there is no mandatory quarantine, I will fly back to Kuching for the Chinese New Year,” she said.

“Don’t. Just stay put there and relax there. Go out with your friends and sleep as much as you want,” both her mother, who’s my younger sister, and I advised her.

Personally, I don’t have any complaints about my Chinese New Year break. New Sarawak Tribune will be off on New Year Eve, first day and second day of the Chinese New Year. That’s enough time to relax and destress from the punishing schedule in the office.

In life, I think all of us have to get used to being alone once in a while. Sometimes, we are alone by choice. At other times, we are alone because of circumstances. Like my niece who is away in Singapore to earn a living. It’s her choice to work there.

I salute her for being so daring and adventurous at such a young age. She is just 24 years old. When I was in my early 20s, I moved from Sibu, my hometown, to Kuching. Unlike my niece, I had no choice. I was offered a job by Sarawak Tribune, the predecessor of New Sarawak Tribune, as a reporter cum photographer.

I was desperately looking for a job in Sibu but couldn’t find one. Kuching was not new to me – I had spent two years doing my Form Six here. I was not being courageous or adventurous when I worked in Kuching. I was being practical.

Later on, when I was in my late 20s, I was offered a chance to work in Singapore but I turned it down. A frog under the coconut shell then, I thought Singapore was too far away! Maybe, it was – without the convenience of the Internet and Zoom applications that we enjoy now.

Now, with Zoom, home is just a click away.

For some people, the Chinese New Year break is synonymous with poker or mahjong games.

When they reunite from all corners of the world, some family members will play poker or mahjong during the Chinese New Year . Others will spend it watching TV shows or movies.

There are others who will spend it eating and sleeping.

The Chinese New Year is the best time of the year for children. There are no classes to attend, so much good food to enjoy and so many “angpow” (red envelopes containing cash) to collect from relatives. Their parents, too, will be too busy to breathe down their neck.

With everything, especially the Chinese New Year goods, increasing in prices, it will certainly be a more expensive Lunar New Year for the celebrants. Now, perhaps, it is time for Chinese housewives to be prudent in their spending and to think before they buy.

Although they are more expensive, the oranges and snacks from China will still be in demand. If you are used to buying three big boxes of Pokam Mandarin oranges, now maybe you will buy just two boxes to last you until the Chap Goh Mei (15th day of the Chinese New Year).

In Chinese, the words for tangerine and orange resemble the words for luck and success respectively. Since their bright colour also symbolises gold, the fruits symbolise good luck and wealth.

Because of the price increases, perhaps you also have to limit your other purchases like the soft drinks, groundnuts, sunflower, pumpkin or watermelon seeds.

The nuts and seeds are always served as Chinese New Year snacks. In Mandarin, peanuts are called “Hua Sheng” and “Sheng” also means to give birth, symbolising the wish for many children. Peanuts, also named “longevity nuts”, symbolise vitality, longevity, riches and honour.

If you are still shopping for your Chinese New Year goodies, good luck in your purchases. Do observe the COVID-19 standard operating procedures as you move around.

Let’s hope life will return to normal next Chinese New Year.

Previous articleCM tells young to embrace their role in future
Next articleCops warn against illegal racing