tradition plays a very important role in society as it represents the identity that serves as the core of families and entire communities. they symbolize the virtues we aspire to possess and the well wishes we issue out as every gesture, every aspect of this often elaborate display is loaded with deep significance. these practices already in their own very weighty, have become even more so after they were incorporated into religion and vice versa. this amalgamation of culture with faith has seen tradition securing itself as a main fixture in societal gatherings, especially during times of celebration.
sharing a heritage with more than a BILLION other Chinese families like ours, with a culture steep in history and thousand-year old practices under our belts, you would certainly expect celebrating occasions the Chinese way would be anything short of a spectacle, this considering how we just have a knack for throwing parties. true enough, attending any Chinese gathering, be it a wedding or a funeral, and you will quickly be lost in an abundance of food, drink, and noise. you too would also find yourself immersed deeply in flurry of activities comprising of rather strange practices and involving many seemingly random objects. ahhhh, my people and their LOVE for symbolism.... as if we don't have gazillions of them already.
case in point would be the awfully significant celebration of new year's day.
taking away the customary banquet, the food that will actually be devoured during the day's celebration, and you would probably find yourself left with an almost equal amount of food, all put there since they bear very heavy auspicious relevance. until now, i have not been able to understand our obsession with luck, for as how i have seen it, everything apparently revolves around it and the attracting of it. from the color of clothes we should wear (red or with polka dots. never black or white), to our accessories (gold and jade are always good. coral and pearls are good too), to the food we prepare (the pineapple, taro, and the baby mandarins are always present), to the shape of the food (everything HAS to be round). i won't even bother mentioning how many of these items should be present since numerology also comes into play to ensure that we will not miss out on the showering of "swirti" come the dawning of the new day.
it was probably our own fundamentally christian beliefs and my late missionary grandfather's blatant disregard for these practices that saw my family being spared from the hassle of going to market and bargaining our brains out from enterprising vendors as well as looking like a mob of bespekled, bejewelled carolers come dinner time. join celebrations with the Tan's and you will bear witness only to a display of family member's cooking prowess and unabashed gluttony. if you expect to be greeted by charms, dragons, porcelain turnips, figurines, bald fat Buddhas, 9 horses, waving cats, diamond encrusted toads biting onto a coin and golden fishes, then be forewarned. you will be severely disappointed, for on the few occasions my entire clan does come together to dine (only four times a year all in all: our two new year's day celebrations; lola's birthday and lolo's death anniversary), then the only thing you would expect to experience that is anything close to traditional would be the gathering of an entire brood, having a lengthy prayer of thanks and blessing, gearing themselves to a gastronomic onslaught.
honestly now.... is it really that bad?