Pre-CNY Activities

You might think that I’m a piece of 叉烧 char siew, leaving my mom alone to cook while I went to the malls for some shopping and then provide silent moral support in front of the TV. I need to defend myself a bit here, so I am going to share with you two other activities we did in preparation for CNY, two activities that I have active involvement in.

化纸宝 Converting Paper Treasure

We did this in the morning of CNY Eve. It is basically preparing a bunch of paper based treasures and converting them to a form that our deceased ancestors will be able to receive and use them. Yeah, where science have failed, us Chinese have methods to get in touch with the deceased and take care of them.

So how does this conversion works?

DSC_0026

First, we need a metal bin

Then we will place those paper treasures inside the bin and burn them. The flames will engulf the papers, turning them into smoke that will rise up to the heaven and reach our ancestors. Before setting the fire ablaze, one needs to pray to the ancestors at praying altar first. And while burning, one needs to think of the ancestors. This will ensure the smoke will find it’s way to the right recipients.

DSC_0021

旺财金 招财进宝 Usher in wealth and prosperity

DSC_0022

揾大钱 生意兴隆 Earn Big Bucks, Prospering Business

DSC_0023

Billions of dollars for the ancestors

There’s actually quite a bit more that I did not manage to capture in photo. I told you I have direct involvement, didn’t I? I was the one who woke up early, so I get to help mom out with this. She arranged the papers into correct shapes and layers, I carried the papers to the bin and lighted them up.

DSC_0027

Yeah, we are contributing 0.0001% of pollution and global warming

Last Minute CNY Grocery Shopping

Every year, mom will start buying and preparing things for CNY as early as a month earlier. But some things need to be bought as fresh as possible as they can’t store for long, especially vegetables supply over the first few days of the new year as the wet market would be closed. So every day before CNY Eve, and CNY Eve itself, mom would still head to the pasar (wet market) for some last minute grocery shopping. Since I am around, the task of chauffeur and personal walking trolley cart falls to me.

DSC_0004

Strolling in the Pasar (Wet market)

DSC_0011

Everyone is making the last minute dash

These photos are all taken with my phone. I did not carry my camera with me, as it would be too much of a trouble, especially when I expect both my hands to be carrying loads of things.

So what do people typically buy on the last minute dash for CNY?

DSC_0005

CNY Snacks and Titbits

DSC_0008

芦柑 Mandarin Oranges

DSC_0007

Overpriced vegetables and seafood

Seriously, fresh grocery is always overpriced as it gets close to CNY. You can expect to pay at least 30% more for vegetables, and sometimes 2 times more for meat and seafood. Prices increase corresponding to how desperate people are to buy them.

DSC_0009

Stuff for prayers

DSC_0010

Fruits for prayers and consumption

DSC_0016

发糕 Fatt Gou / Huat Kuih – don’t know what it’s called in English

DSC_0018

Uncle showing toddler the fun of fireworks

This is the last photo I was able to capture…

DSC_0017

Personal walking trolley cart

After this, both my hands were carrying bags and I have no hands to handle the phone anymore..

16 Comments

  1. I’ve done the burning of paper money! But not on CNY, in 清明节。Do you also celebrate it in Malaysia? In the cemeteries in the big cities they don’t let you burn things right in front of the grave so they have “ATM’s” by the cemetery gates and you burn your money offerings there. But you have to put all the money in a paper bag and write the name of your deceased relative on it, otherwise maybe someone else would get the money 😀

    • LOL! We don’t use the word celebrate for 清明! But yeah, we do have that too. We don’t really go on that day itself, sometimes we visit the cemeteries a week before or after to avoid overcrowding. Good thing is that here the cemeteries are all outside the cities, so we get a lot of space to play with. We usually visit a few graves (grandparents, great grandparents, sometimes great great grandparents), and we will burn the offerings right in front of each grave.

  2. Fatt gou…Chinese fortune cupcakes, maybe? Nowadays, most people would buy their fresh produce a few days earlier and stash it in their fridge/freezer, otherwise they’ll ‘cut your throats’ on CNY eve!

    • My mom stock up a week ahead too, but she won’t for vegetables. She wants the vegetables to be as fresh as possible, so she would rather be overcharged and buy on the Eve.

  3. Ok, so we got it that you are not a char siew! LOL! You helped your mother on Pre CNY activities more than your siblings I guess.

    I guess there are many, many more years to go before your mother will not be able to cook for you all and you will be the one taking over from her to prepare chinese reunion dinner (if all of you want to eat a home cooked meal) as I think you cook more than your brother and sister.

    Just one question, will you be carrying on the tradition of converting paper treasure when both your parents are no longer around in the future?

    P/S Nice photos – a good way of documenting pre CNY activities.

    • On both counts (cooking for the family and burning paper treasure), my answer would be: I don’t know! I don’t want to even think about it when mom is still around 😐

      I suppose I would be able to cook if I want to, but I’m not so sure about the paper treasure part. Don’t even know what to burn and when to burn LOL! I just burn whatever mom passed to me! 😀

    • Er, not that many angpows, for sure it is much less than what I already spent hahaha! I am still thinking how to write, guess you have to read it tomorrow 😉

  4. Oh, interesting! I’ve heard about the money burning custom, but I didn’t know it had to be done in special layers. Do you know the reason/system for the different layers? You’ve gotten me curious about the process. 🙂

    Interesting to see what’s on sale at the markets, too. And good on you for getting up early to help your mom! (And then sharing with us! :D)

    • I don’t really know how it works LOL! I tried asking mom, but she doesn’t seem to know much either, she has just been doing what her mom did..

      What I know for sure is, we would use some of those plain looking papers (the same papers that people use to fold into gold ingots) to form a base, some sort of like a bowl. Then the more colorful pieces would be placed on top of the base. I’m guessing we need to do that so that the money and charms are presented in bowls or platters when they reach the ancestors. I’m just making a wild guess, I could be very wildly off the mark here! 😀

  5. Let me think of what I did on the morning of cny eve.. Hubby went to the office for a while coz it’s a tradition every year, with prayers and all.. I was at home with the two boys, cooked noodles with abc soup for them, haha and went to reunion dinner in the evening with the in laws.. Last minute shopping? Got! I went to the supermarket yesterday to get some last minute stuff for cooking today 😉

  6. Interesting. Being a Christian, I am not familiar with all that.

    Yup!!! These days, we have freezers – buy early and deep freeze – never buy at the last minute. No, it’s not fresh either – they deep-freeze the fiosh, the prawns everything way before CNY to sell at a very much higher price when the time co\mes.

    But some love to go at the last minute…for the feel of it! All that crowd, all that Chinese New Year mood and cheer in the air.

    • Oh, not the seafood here. Mom knows how to choose, and it is always the fresh ones. And definitely the vegetables. The only thing is they are always priced way more expensive than they are supposed to be, and we will still buy them 😐

Comments are closed.