Today we celebrated the Chinese New Year with a lunch and all colleagues went out of the office in a bus. This is the year of the snake. The ritual is for people to be seated around a round table with a large plate full of different coloured vegetables that have been grated and then some fried crackers are placed on it, some fish and other meat strips and then lots of sauce is poured. Everyone seated around the table must then stand up and mix all of this and using chopsticks throw it as high as possible, for prosperity. There are good wishes that are spoken as this is done. Then everyone takes small portions from the common plate to eat. I didn’t eat from the common plate since it had fish and some meat but just participated in the ritual.
Another tradition during the Chinese New Year is to visit your relatives and friends with two mandarin oranges in a red bag. You gift the two mandarin oranges to the family and when you leave they will give you two mandarin oranges and the process is repeated in all the homes you visit and finally you return home with two mandarin oranges – no gain, no loss but a lot of exchange. I loved this concept, as it ensures everyone gets to visit each others house with no great expectations but at the same time, exchange gifts and wishes.
There is no special food prepared for the New Year but people just gather with their relatives and celebrate.
Also as part of the New Year celebration, one of the offices I visited had a Lion Dance being performed. The Lion is supposed to ward off evil spirits, so it’s a ritual to bless the office. In 2002 when we had visited Singapore for the first time, there was a Lion Dance performance that the tour company had taken us to. Didn’t understand the significance then, but just enjoyed the colors and the ability of the dancers as they jumped up platforms and did all kinds of acrobatics while remaining in the form of a Lion.
Cultures are so fascinating !