Saturday Special: Happy Chinese New Year! By Rachel
Since my last article, I have eaten a massive feast cooked by Mama Chan. I have rolled home, barely fitting through the door. The kids, to their delight, have been given red envelopes from Mama and Papa Chan and are now fast asleep in bed after having a wash using that water and sticking their fingertips in the rice tub three times in a row.
And just to prove we really do boil some random leaves in water and wash with it, here is some evidence:
I realised to my horror that I forgot to buy ‘fai chun’. These are red decorations with Chinese phrases on them. The old ones are removed from the doors and replaced with new ones. Cue improvisation 101, a bit of red card (thanks kids) and a permanent marker. And as my Chinese writing is a bit crap (although I have to point out I did get a GCSE A* in Chinese), I have chosen to write easier phrases.
So what do they say? Fai chun usually consist of four Chinese characters that make up a blessing. Take for example the photo below which are the ones are I removed.
On the left says ‘man see sing yee’, which means literally ‘ten thousand things success’. The one in the middle ‘hup gar ping on’ which is ‘whole family safe’. The one on the right ‘lung ma ching sun’- ‘dragon horse alert’- (sorry my Chinese interpretation is a bit dodge, I am totes going to hell after posting this). Get the idea though?
Yeah all right. Funny, eh? The one on the right is a woeful attempt to copy the original. Middle is ‘sum seung see sing’- ‘heart think success’, middle bottom- ‘choot yut ping on’- ‘exit, entrance safe’. And the far left is ‘fook’ (yeah that made us laugh as kids as it sounds like a swear word!) which is ‘fortune’
But why have you seen that, er, upside down? Ahhhh, that I do know. One cool thing about the Chinese is that there are lots of words that sound exactly the same. You might have heard that if you read ‘ma’ with a different tone, it could be a question word, or horse, or even mother. The word upside down- ‘dau juen’ is same sound as arrive- also ‘dau’. So to stick it upside down is to welcome fortune to arrive.
My mind is blown. Guess I better go now. Need to fill red envelopes for the kids. And bring on New Year dim sum.
Kung Hei Fat Choi everyone!