Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Chinese New Year Never Changes, And That's Why It's Special

Chinese New Year isn't high on my calendar. But this year, it was special. Or rather, maybe it's always been special, just that I haven't realised how special it was until this year.

No, nothing different or magical happened. Ang-pows are stacked with the same cash notes (despite the increase of inflation over the years). Fire-crackers keep us awake. Gambling goes on for hours, a never-ending cacophony of boisterous laughter and screams of 'Picture!'

(It was one of the coldest Chinese New Years in recent memory, though. Climate change ain't all that bad, after all.)

It's the Year of the Rooster. Right, whatever.

So what makes this annual festival special?

It's the unwinding of time. A return to routine. A gentle reminder how in our fast-paced world driven by technology and social evolution, some things still never change.

Children revere their elders. Far-flung families reunite. Young and old, people update each other with stories of their lives that social media can't capture. Social connections, once lost, are recharged again.

Chinese New Year brings families and friends close together. Not purely by choice, admittedly. Rather, custom works like gravity. It pulls everyone to the same spot whether they like it or not.

I'm not big on customs. I don't wear new clothes on the first day of Chinese New Year. I don't toss Yee Sang high up in the air. I don't give a shit what a Rat must or must not do at any given year according to the alignment of the stars, moons, planets, black holes, or whatever.

And yet, the sense of familiarity is oddly comforting. The songs are as loud and annoying af. Relatives unceasingly harass you on your relationship status. Friends you've barely talked to in ages blast out good wishes that never quite take off to actual meet-ups.

Guy in green at the back does not give af

Yes, Chinese New Year is special. Always has been, always will be. It's like that one sweet spot in the orbit that Earth has to pass through as it keeps circling the sun. Love it or hate it, Chinese New Year will come to pass every year. Stopping it from happening is as futile as stopping gravity.

Some things in life never change. At the very least, Chinese New Year reminds us of how we as a community have lived through the ages, fraying at the sides but still united strongly together. And that reason alone is good enough as any to celebrate it with blood-red aplomb, year after year, as long as the heavens smile upon us.

Gong Xi Fa Chai, folks!

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