January 28, 2006
We celebrated Chinese New Year’s Eve the traditional way – by eating. It doesn’t matter so much where we ate or who we ate with, what matters is what was on the table. Specifically, what was on the table when midnight struck.
My mother had prepared a gorgeous, very Chinese looking dinner table to welcome the New Year. She laid out the party flatware and made sure the table was filled with auspicious food like fish, chicken, glutinous rice, dates, and this year’s five lucky fruits (according to a feng shui master): apples, oranges, pineapples, pomelos and bananas. We also had misua, leeks and shallots.
I don’t remember what each of the items are supposed to symbolize, except that in the end they all mean wealth, which is important if you’re Chinese. In today’s economy, wealth is something that a lot of people would be very glad to have.
A lot of Chinese tradition points towards the attraction of luck and the accumulation of wealth. This is not due to selfishness, but practicality and a selfless love for the next generation. Chinese parents work hard to give their children good lives. They train their children this way too, so that they can feed their children and thus continue the family line.
Unfortunately, this is sometimes misunderstood, both by Chinese and non-Chinese. Wealth is seen as something to lord over others. It becomes something to covet, to show off, to make a name with. It buys power, prestige, friends, favors. Because of such thinking, people become spoiled, bratty, overconfident of themselves. A lot aren’t driven to achieve by themselves because their money can do it for them.
I’m not going to sat which side of the fence I’m on. What I will say is that I should stop this train of thought right now and get back to work. After all, time is money. ;P