Chinese New Year and the Customs of China

When I wrote about my family's Chinese New Year celebrations I wanted readers to see the way we lived the festivities from the family reunion dinner on New Year's Eve to Chap Goh Meh and the various rituals and customs: preparation of special dishes and rice wine; receiving hong pow; the peace we children had on the first four days of the new year; bringing of good luck and the warding off of evil spirits; appeasing the kitchen god.

Chinese customs, rituals and festivals were an integral part of my grandmother's established practices in China and became a part of my own childhood. I could not have written my memoir without talking about these experiences in intimate detail.

I hope that for the curious or those wanting to know more about the culture of China it will be informative and a revelation reading about the traditions that my grandmother, from Canton (Guangzhou), brought to our household, among them:

- The 'traditional' attitude to female children

- The impact that Chinese astrology had on our lives

- Chinese New Year festivities

- The Ching Ming ceremony at the graves of ancestors

- The festival in honour of the moon goddess

- The Dragon Boat festival

- Worship in the temple with shong yau, kao chim and ta-pui

- The importance of sons and chief mourners

- The Book of Three Lifetimes

- The cleansing ceremony at one month after childbirth

- Herbal remedies and painful 'mungsa' treatments

- Buddha and the animal signs

- Taoist observance after a funeral

- The giving of pak kum

- The importance of feng-shui in a new house