I spent my earlier childhood years in Hong Kong. The traditions and customs practised during the Chinese New Year in the 1960's etched into my mind to this very day. For the first part of this article, please click: http://chinesenewsgroup.com/news/666076.
On the New Year's Eve and at the “temporary” night market, we also picked up “Four-worded” banners or Fai Chun done up in calligraphy brushes to adorn entrances throughout the dwellings. These words expressed wishes and luck for the inhabitants throughout the coming year. Parents insisted that we had to wear our new shoes when we visited the night markets. Walking with tens of thousands of people within the narrow alleys between the booths we chanted “Selling laziness, selling till December 30th, you will be lazy but not me from this time onward” When I look back at this custom, I don't think the chanting really led to any results.
On New year's day, dressed in new garments inside and out, we had to visit and “Kowtow” to living elders as well as shrine plates with our ancestors' names. As rewards, we received red packets of money. My parents kept all of the red packets and returned them when I reached adulthood. Years later, inflation caught up with the monetary values but some of the contents now become rare coinage.
As a big family, all uncles and aunts would travel with us in multiple vehicles (mini vans) and visit elderly relatives of higher hierarchy. We exchanged pleasantries and wished each other good luck, good fortune (Gung Hay Fat Choy), and good health. The family members on my mother's side were visited on the second day of the New year – this being the result of a male dominated and controlled society. Dried melon seeds, sugar coated lotus seeds，and sugar coated melons were offered to visitors along with tea. Tangyuan (small round dough balls in water) meaning “reunion” were served within the individual family unit.
There were taboos to follow as well – no sweeping of floors or turning on of water taps on New year's day. These activities will remove and flush away the fortunes and luck deposited on the dwelling on the most blessed day of the entire year. Fire crackers were allowed in my early childhood but eventually banned to the prevent the extraction of gun power for homemade bombs during the 1967 riots initiated by local communists to try and topple the government. I still recall holding onto a firecracker for too long, not realizing that it had a short fuse after lighting it with a stick of burning incense – what a mistake!
Lion and dragon Dances would mostly be performed in stadiums and community centres only. However, I have seen lion dances performed at the front door of businesses with the aim to extract monies from them without invitations. Potted tangerines were also placed at the front doors by extortionists. Properties would be damaged if there racketeers were not paid. Those were the days in Hong Kong when bribery and police corruptions were most rampant. Reporting of such incidents to the police would not result in arrests as they were partners in crime with the criminals.
我这一生都会缅怀在香港过的那些春节。 那些日子很幸福。童年以后，春节的许多传统发生了变化。 我们不再有人气旺盛的大家庭和有时间来准备年货，我们改成到店里购买各种年货。虽然有些老的春节传统将永远消失。 但有一个传统将世世代代延续下去，那就是在春节时对别人说句：“恭喜发财”！
My memories of Chinese New Year in Hong Kong will last a life time. Those were happy days and traditions have evolved since then. We no longer have tightly knitted families and ample spare time to do the New Year preparations and activities so we buy items from the stores here in Canada. Some of the above traditions will be lost forever. There is only one thing that will always remain – saying “Gung Hay Fat Choy” to everyone during the Chinese New Year!
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