Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Welcoming 2015 and the Year of the Goat

taken at Lake Toya, Hokkaido

Few weeks ago we celebrated the coming of the New Year and just around the corner we will be welcoming yet another one. This time it’s the Chinese New Year. Both celebrations have always been big events all over the world with almost everyone counting down to the New Year (and the Lunar New Year). Every nation has its own way of welcoming the New Year and almost always it involves partying, music, performances, and the final countdown (whether be it a ball drop or fireworks on top of iconic buildings or bridges).

In Singapore, commercial establishments almost immediately change into the festive CNY mood just a few weeks after the celebration of the New Year. Chinese New Year (CNY) has its fair share of grandiose celebrations. The glitzy Christmas decors of mostly silver and gold along Orchard Road and several other shopping areas are replaced by predominantly red-themed Chinese ornaments. In place of Christmas trees and lanterns are now Goats/Sheep in different sizes, varieties and colors which represent this year’s Chinese Zodiac. The festivities just keep coming as we get into the middle of February which happens to be the beginning of the Chinese New Year.

Aside from families joining in the holiday atmosphere by decorating homes for the season, the common denominators for both celebrations are the gathering of families and friends to share a feast (or even feasts!) and the observance of traditions passed from generation to generation. It’s a time when family members living overseas make their way back to their home countries, or visit their families abroad, to touch base and bring back sweet memories of the past and discuss great possibilities for the future.

This year, my sis-in-law and her husband were with us again to welcome the New Year in Singapore. We watched as New Zealand welcomed the New Year with fantastic fireworks. We counted down with Mediacorp artists at the Marina Floating Platform. As our cuckoo clock sounded off at the stroke of midnight, I bounced Ira up and down as he tried to keep himself awake (barely) on the sofa. We exchanged New Year greetings and hugs. To spice up our New Year celebrations, we came up with a modern twist to the traditional twelve round fruits prepared by families in the Philippines to bring good luck - we bought a few of our favorite round selections (pastries and Japanese this year). Plates cleared. Cravings satisfied. No wastage. Now I’d say that’s a great welcome to the New Year!
Our modern way of welcoming the New Year 
– Twelve Cupcakes, Donuts, Chocolate and Sushi – they are round alright

As for the coming of the Lunar New Year about a week from now, our family has already been gifted with Chinese goodies by our friendly neighbor. It's been an annual event, this gift-giving between neighbors, since we moved to our home 10 years ago. In other aspects of the Lunar New Year celebration, even though we don’t decorate our home for this occasion, I have my fair share of CNY decorating in school. We’ve just finished putting them all up two weeks ago, just in time for the first Parents Engagement Session with the new Principal. I didn’t just hang CNY decors (I’ve done it over the years); I also got to know bits and pieces of historical and cultural significance from fellow parent volunteers as well as teachers who shared their knowledge about Chinese customs and traditions. And every year, I have to say, I learn something new (I hope I’d remember them all, though). Oh, and yes, this year I'm going to wear a cheongsam for Chinese New Year, too!

As I walk through another first day of another new year, I’d like take each day of the year as opportunities for countless possibilities. Positivity while enjoying the journey, that’s gotta be my motto for the year. Enjoying as I let things go from time to time. 

Cheers to 2015! 

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