Posted by: travelrat | February 8, 2008

Chinese New Year


I think the Chinese have an excellent idea in celebrating New Year around now. In the Western world, New Year’s Day falls far too soon after Christmas; I’ve often advocated that, since, in many organisations, the financial year starts on the 1st April, the actual year should start then, too.But, around now, I just start to feel in the party mood again! Unfortunately, we don’t have a very large Chinese community around here, but we sometimes either go out for a Chinese meal, or order a take-away to mark the occasion. And, they usually give us a little gift with it … wind chimes, a mobile* or a calendar or something like that.

(*In this context, it’s a dingly-dangly thing that hangs from the ceiling as in my picture, not an English cellphone!)

This year, though, we ate Italian. We went to dinner with a couple who said they ‘don’t like’ Chinese food. This sort of statement never made any sense to me. It’s a bit like someone not liking the liver and onions he was offered (and I wouldn’t blame him; I don’t like it, either) and saying he didn’t like all English food solely on that account.

Anyway, this coming year is ‘The Year of the Rat’. I wonder if that’s a good omen?

Speaking of things Chinese, I sat behind a woman on the bus the other day, and she had Chinese characters tattooed on her shoulder. I wondered if she really knew what they meant, or did she take the tattoo artist’s word for it? Did they actually, unknown to her, signify something like ‘I am a woman of easy virtue and doubtful personal cleanliness’?

Let me say I have nothing but respect for Chinese tradition and culture, but I have to laugh when I think of the last time I ‘ate Chinese’. Mr. Lam, the restaurant proprietor, seeing my friend struggling with chopsticks, said ‘We invented gunpowder and the clock. I wonder why we never got around to inventing the knife and fork?’

Gung hay fat choy (the only Chinese I know!) everyone !!

If you want to see my latest piece online … I know it’s not really appropriate for Lent … it’s now live at


  1. Chinese New Year is big here as we live very close to Chinatown. I used to teach in a school that was 85% Chinese so I am very fond of the culture. Love those little waving cats!

  2. 😀

    Well, she should be worrying about her tattoo after stories like this one:

  3. Back in the days when ‘everybody was kung-fu fighting’ I saw some nice T-shirts with ‘Chinese characters’ on them. My wife advised not to buy one until I knew what they really meant.

    I went down a few days later, with a Singaporean neighbour, who said they were just meaningless squiggles … but, by that time, they didn’t have any left in my size.

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