CHINESE New Year is the most important celebration throughout the world for the Chinese.
They will drop whatever they are doing and travel home to be with their families.
The festivities begin with the family reunion dinner on the eve of the Lunar New Year and the celebration comprises feasting, yam seng, gambling, visiting, sampling delicacies and cookies, fireworks and firecrackers as well as more feasting for the next 15 days.
I guess not many people realise there are more festivals during this season than the rest of the year.
The celebration starts on the eve, which is the day of reunion.
The first day is the most important and we always utter auspicious words with connotations of goodness, especially prosperity and good health, to each other.
The second day is hoi lin, meaning the beginning of the year.
The seventh day is the people’s birthday, which is celebrated with loh sang (prosperity toss).
These days, the loh sang tradition is so highly commercialised that the popular yee sang dish is available a month before Chinese New Year.
The Hokkien community celebrates the Festival of the King of Heaven on the ninth day with great reverence.
The season ends with a big feast and fireworks on the 15th day.
The Chinese New Year season, also known as the Spring Festival, is a great time for family bonding.
It is the only time when everyone in my family takes a break for a week or longer.
When I was single, my parents would take our family for an overseas trip on the second or third day of Chinese New Year.
I have fond memories of those trips.
Now that I am married, I have introduced the idea to my husband and parents-in-law.
We decided to take our eight-month-old baby Cat on a free and easy trip to Europe.
Because of her tender age, we have two matters of concern – keeping her warm at all times as the temperatures would be between one degree Celsius and five degrees Celsius; and helping her deal with the effects of air pressure on her delicate eardrums during take-off and landing.
As we were excitedly making preparations, my mother-in-law had a fall and injured her knees quite badly.
Her condition was diagnosed as chronic osteoarthritis which, if left untreated, would worsen and may require surgery later.
I know from experience that she would suffer during the coming trip.
A few years ago, I sprained my ankle and suffered excruciating pain.
Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments were to no avail and the pain subsided just a little.
A few weeks later, I went on our family Chinese New Year trip to New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
How I suffered during that trip – limping all the way except at the airports where I was wheeled around.
When I returned home, I was referred to a UK-trained pilatique physiotherapist who specialises in sports injuries rehabilitation and rehabilitation pilates.
He fixed my ankle over six sessions and the pain disappeared.
So I understand my mother-in-law’s, or rather, our group’s predicament.
When one person in a group is unwell, it affects everyone’s trip. We had to fix her injury before the trip and sought the physiotherapist’s help.
I am certain that the physiotherapist will get my mother-in-law back in shape as her condition was caused by wear and tear, and he has successfully treated seriously injured athletes.
I am confident my mother-in-law will fully recover before our trip.
With this issue settled, I will concentrate on spring cleaning, baking some cookies and cakes and shopping for winter clothing for baby Cat.
I shall endeavour to make baby Cat’s maiden overseas trip an enjoyable and memorable one.
Wishing you “Gong Xi Fa Cai” and may you be blessed with your heart’s desire in the Year of the Monkey.
Chermaine Poo is a chartered accountant turned actress TV host, emcee and columnist. Follow her on www.chermainepoo.com, Facebook.com/ChermainePoo, and Instagram.com/ChermainePoo or drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org