Chinese new year is easily one of my favourite holidays. The time there is until the lunar new year is directly proportional to the amount of excitement bubbling away in my veins.
Say Chinese new year, and this is what immediately comes to mind: holiday novelties, bazaars, sales and stalls in Chinatown; haggling with shopkeepers for the best deal on red paper-cuttings and lanterns; receiving hong bao from relatives; eating watermelon seeds, sweets and sour plums while 'laughing' at bad jokes; staying up until midnight, crowded around the sweet box on our living room table and watching 春晚 (Spring festival gala). There's also those terribly tacky songs playing on repeat in shopping malls, and oranges going on sale at ridiculously low prices in supermarkets and wet markets.
A big part of Chinese new year is the food. Reunion dinner on new year's eve (除夕) - dumplings (they're said to look like gold ingots, and represent wealth), fish that can't be finished in one sitting (not because of size: the fish has to be kept for the next year, to represent 年年有余 -abundance every year- a play on the pronunciation of abundance and fish in mandarin), chicken, hotpot/steamboat and abalone. For the rest of the festivities, there's steamboat. But every child's favourite is the box of sweets displayed in every household along with pineapple tarts, biscuits and bak kwa. Most often, I get carried away and fill myself up on sweets before dinner - oops.
I'm always sad to see Chinese new year go (I said this to my parents once and they asked if it was because I got free money during the festivities). The reason why is because it's such an important time of the year for families to get together and catch up with each other. Many Chinese living overseas only go home once a year - for the new year (surprisingly, my parents never did this as it was too crowded - airports, train stations and ferry terminals were all overwhelmed with the amount of people passing through to make it home in time for reunion dinner). Although I see my family all year around, there's something special about Chinese new year that just brings us closer.
Goodbye Chinese new year, until next time.