Restaurants stock up to celebrate ‘everyone’s birthday’

GEORGE TOWN: Restaurants here are stocked up with yee sang meals for families to come together to celebrate “everyone’s birthday” this Saturday.Otherwise known as Ren Ri, the event is marked on the seventh day of Chinese New Year, a day that will see the appearance of three dishes traditionally associated with prosperity and abundance.

Other than the popular yee sang, Penang Kwang Tung and Teng Chow Association secretary Datuk Lee Wing Kong said the other two items which carry great symbolism are congee and noodles.

“Although yee sang is traditionally only served on Ren Ri, restaurants are now providing it throughout the Chinese New Year period.

“The congee, which contains seven vegetarian ingredients, is said to foster togetherness and bonding.

“The noodles, which are uncut and served in long strands, signifies longevity,” he said yesterday.

Lee said changing lifestyle trends meant that only the elderly in one’s family emphasises celebrating Ren Ri these days.

According to traditional Chinese belief, Ren Ri was the day human beings were created, following the creation of the rooster, dog, pig, sheep, cow and horse.

At the Jade Palace Restaurant along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, its adviser Jade Tham said reservations for Ren Ri had started pouring in since early this year.

“We expect lunch and dinner sessions to be fully booked by Saturday.

“Not just families, many groups are looking forward to celebrating the special day as it falls on a weekend,” she said.

Checks at several other restaurants found them to be also stocked with yee sang and offering a variety of packages tailored for Ren Ri as well as throughout the Chinese New Year festival.

Penang Cultural Inheritors Society chairman Kwoh Shoo Chen said as families no longer observe Chinese New Year traditions strictly, it is the reunion of families that matters the most.

“The tradition dates back to over 2,000 years ago, and we are fortunate that it is still very much largely preserved in Malaysia, compared to China.

“While many may not observe the tradition fully, we appreciate that some groups still uphold it for symbolism and to preserve the spirit of togetherness and gratitude for blessings,” she said.

Public events to be held to celebrate the occasion include cultural showcases like the annual Miao Hui event, set to take place within the heritage precinct of George Town from 4pm to 11pm this Saturday.

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