1. What are your morning rituals on the first day of CNY/before you start visiting?
On the first day of Chinese New Year, before we head out for visiting, James and I sit on our couch and the kids take turns to greet us (拜年). They each hold a pair of Mandarin oranges (柑橘), and say auspicious greetings to wish us well for the new year. In turn, we wish them health, happiness and excellence in their studies before giving them their red packets (红包).
2. What reunion dinner traditions do you have?
Every year, we have a big, fat reunion dinner (团圆饭) at our aunt's house with the extended family. It is always great fun, especially since there are kids now in my generation, and the kiddos get to hang out together as well. My own favourite reunion tradition has to be the steamboat (火锅), which I also eat all year round! It is fresh, healthy and brings people together. Nothing beats the joy of gathering around a hotpot with your loved ones.
3. Angpow practices — do you like giving your kids a special bag to keep them in? Do you make them carry the oranges to each house?
I am the keeper of the red packets, the “banker” in the family for a change (my husband works in a bank). The kids are well trained to hand over all their red packets to me. As for the oranges, yes, I try to make sure that at least one person has the “Mandarin-orange duty” whichever house we go to.
4. What goodies do you like to have available for visitors?
We make sure our festive goodies are worth their calories, by getting the best for our visitors! I am lucky because my sister-in-law buys them for me every year, and my husband orders through his friends and colleagues, too. Bak kwa (肉干) and sweet Mandarin oranges are a must. I ply my guests with the goodies so there will be none left for me.
5. What does CNY mean to you?
It is, quite simply, my favourite time of the year! Maybe it is [because of] my childhood: It was a time of giving the house a fresh coat of paint, new clothes, and reconnecting with family. I think it is important for us to establish traditions while the kids are young. We will also be doing a special webisode on my Mandarin learning portal Crazy about Chinese for the Chinese New Year, so check it out.
6. What’s your favourite CNY greeting? What’s your favourite CNY song?
My favourite CNY greeting is “心想事成”, which means you will achieve whatever your heart desires. I don't have a favourite CNY song per se, but I like the fact that the songs really perk up the festive atmosphere everywhere, tacky as some of them can be sometimes....
See what Diana Ser’s favourite Chinese New Year outfits and traditions are like at Crazy About Chinese.