How Did You Know?

At the local post office I fell into conversation with the lady behind the counter as she clerked through a power bill. We have arrangements here in Australia to pay a lot of our things through the local Post Office and it’s a real time-saver, I can tell you.

Well, being the 2nd of January at the time, we wished each other a Happy New Year and agreed that we had survived the holiday season. We both looked tired. But then I told her not to get too comfortable, as Chinese New Year was coming at the end of the month – the 25th.

She is of Chinese ancestry so I reminded her that it’ll be two more weeks of family celebrations, preparations, food, expense, parties, having to stay up late wishing that everyone would just go home…while smiling brightly. And that she doesn’t qualify for the red envelopes any more because she’s too old – now she has to hand them out…

She laughed, but then looked concerned. How did I know all this? I’m not even vaguely Chinese…

Kid, we all have this sort  of thing – no matter what our ethnicity or culture. 8 days of Hanukkah, 10 days of Rosh Hoshanah, 12 days of Christmas, Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Christmas and New Years slightly offset from all the rest of the country…The poor old Mussies have to go hungry all day for a month and the Hindus and Buddhists probably have something similar somewhere in their own calendars. We all get a season to be ever so jolly and I suspect we all enjoy the first couple of days but then sit smiling grimly until the thing finishes.

One thing to brighten our day, though. You might be sleep-deprived at the end of the fortnight here in Australia, but you’re not stuck on the platform of a Chinese railway station waiting to get home after it.

Another New Year Dawns

Is this one the Ukrainians? Or the Doukhobors? Or the Irish?

No, wait – this one’s the Chinese. Apparently we are about to hit the Year Of The Pig.

Ah, good old Chinese. They have the right idea. Declare a new year that is named after something you can eat. Pig, rabbit, rooster, snake, etc. Not so sure I fancy rat or dragon, but someone somewhere is tossing them in flour and heating a wok. In any case it makes a very practical way to characterise a celebration.

Not so the various UN and other intellectual organisations who declare Years Of The Fashionably Oppressed or Years Of The Ousted Government. If they were to declare the Year Of Paying Their Rent or Year Of Removing Tribal Leaders As Presidents For Life it might lead to more celebrations. If they could persuade the Chinese to declare a Year Of Eating The Presidents For Life they might get somewhere…but you’d need an awful lot of hoi sin sauce…

I shall avoid the dragons and the drums this year, but not the buffet. I may not be a good chopstick eater but I can manage some dishes without flinging chunks past the other diners or stabbing myself in the eye. I shall throw salad at the ceiling, however…