Sunday, February 14, 2010

Just an innocent question...............

Before I begin, Happy Chinese New year to all!!!!!! May you have a roaring year of the tiger ahead of you:)

Ever since I came to the United states, one thing I would always do every year would be to call my family in Malaysia on the first day of Chinese New year at 9am in the morning once to wish my father's side of the family(which means the phone gets passed around to my grandparents, uncles, cousins,aunties,etc.), and I would call a second time at 11am to speak to my mother's side of the family. I do this every year because I knew how big a celebration Chinese New Year is to my family(especially to my grandparents).

We went to Singapore with my grandpa over Christmas break

Yesterday, I did the same thing and the phone got passed on to my grandfather from my father's side, he always looks forward to Chinese New year, the biggest event of the year for him. Both him and my grandmother were originally from Jiang Men in China and they are very traditional. Not to be sidetracked, this is how our conversation went in cantonese:

Me: Yeh Yeh, Gong Xi Fa Cai! May you have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year ahead of you!

Yeh-Yeh(Grandpa): I wish the same to you! What are you doing for Chinese New Year over there????

Me: Nothing really......

Yeh-Yeh: Why aren't you celebrating it with your friends???

Me: Because my friends here don't celebrate Chinese New Year, they celebrate Valentine's day.....

Yeh-Yeh asks once again: What are you doing to celebrate the Chinese New Year?

Me: To be honest, I think I am just going for dim sum with a few friends.....

Yeh-Yeh: Then what do you do during the Chinese New year holidays there?

Me: What Chinese New Year holidays?

Yeh-Yeh: You mean the GOVERNMENT doesn't give the Chinese people day offs to celebrate Chinese New Year?

Me: erm..................................................................

Yeh-Yeh: Why not?


Me with my grandpa in his hometown in China two years ago(My grandfather is really proud of his ancestry and culture as a "China-man" and he wants to show his children his roots. I am glad he did because I now know where my grandparents originate from, my Choo family village and am thankful for him always guiding and teaching us the Chinese culture)

One of my uncle, aunt, cousings, grandpa with my auntie and cousin from China:)

In front of the Choo family hall in the Choo family village in China! Cool HUh?

Then, he had to go off to greet some of my aunts and uncles....phew........I was seriously thinking long and hard about this....the first answer that came to my mind was........... " Well...the government of the US does not give us a holiday for Chinese New Year because the Chinese or Asians are not the majority of the country????"

And then it got me thinking..................... but.....the Chinese in Malaysia aren't the majority of the country and neither are the Indians but we get holidays to celebrate our own culture's festival(CNY holidays, Deepavali and now even Christmas!)

I even started comparing it to other countries such as here in the USA. The largest minority populations are the Latino Americans, followed by the African Americans than the Asian Americans, and so on and so forth but you do not see any national holidays dedicated to allow these minority populations celebrate their culture's festivals. I understand that the USA is a big country and it would be difficult, so I thought of other countries that consisted of a mixture of different ethnicities and could hardly come up with any significant ones.

I then realize, not only is Malaysia one of the only countries that consist of a mixture of three main ethnicities but each main group are still allowed to practise  and transmit their culture down to their children, plus the government grants us "minority" populations "day offs" or holidays to celebrate our own festivals. Bottomline is, I actually feel blessed that although I am a third generation Chinese in Malaysia, I still know a good deal about my own Chinese culture and the little interesting superstitions we practise for Chinese New year(e.g., clean your house thoroughly before the New year's, don't touch a broom on the first day, wear new red clothes on the first day, reunion dinners, eat vegetarian in the morning on the first day,etc), Mooncake Festival, etc.

I as a Chinese Malaysian am appreciative of this little fact that we as an ethnic group are respected enough that the government does grant us this little holidays so we are able to relax and enjoy this festival with our family and friends. So, those in Malaysia having your holidays, have fun, relax and enjoy your festive holidays!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gong Xi Fa Cai

1 comment:

tyler said...

we should institute this policy in advising! everyone should get this week off to celebrate chinese new years!!!!

for parsimony/occam's razor