First Chinese New Year Alone

Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival. It marks the start of a New Lunar Year because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar. In the Chinese culture, it is the most important Chinese holiday. It is a time where family members that have branched out, finally return to their roots.

For the past 20 years of my life, I have celebrated every Chinese New Year with my family by my side. As a family-oriented person, I have always enjoyed the time and energy it takes to travel and spend time together as a whole unit.

My version of Chinese New Year is a simple one, but it will always have a special place in my heart. The tradition starts with everyone waking up earlier than usual and dons the new outfits that we have been saving for Christmas. I come downstairs to greet my parents and the red packets are exchanged. After that, we head over next door, where my grandparents live. Everyone convenes there for exchanging of red packets and breakfast. Around lunch, we head to the hometown of where my grandparents grew up. Each year, we gather in the same house and playfully gamble, play cards, mahjong, hang around with cousins and catch up with each other. There is always the usual comments of “You’ve grown so tall!” or in my case, “Your sister is taller than you!”

In all honesty, I’ve never given these annual festivities a second thought. I was always sure that I would never miss one, or when I do, I would still be with my family, travelling. But last September, I moved away from home for the first time. I went from being in the same house of my family to 12, 765 km away from them. Of course, I realized that I would not be able to spend the important holidays with my family and friends, but it did not hit me until last weekend. I have taken Chinese New Year for granted. There is the painful absence of the smell of pineapple tarts, incense sticks for prayers and red packets. There is no warmth of loving hugs, the annual heat of the new year, and no cigarette smoke from old uncles sitting outside in rocking chairs. I, too wish that I can return to my roots. However, I can only hope to recreate it with some friends I’ve made a short time that I’ve been here and not miss my family and extended family all too much.

Wishing you all a Prosperous Chinese New Year! 新年快乐!