Monday, February 16, 2009

Ancestral Worshipping, and other traditions

1/25 Before eating the dinner, all the Chinese New Year food is offered to the ancestors before the offering table where the family plaque is placed.

We are a semi-traditional family. Our family rituals are quite simplified. Many of the older traditions like bowing or kneeling on the floor kow-towing to the elders were never practiced at our family. The tradition of new year cash gift from older family members to younger family members have been mostly abolished within the Wun Family (!!!!!) to my dismay and relief. Dismay b/c we don't get money; but relieved because we don't have to give money. We used to play a round of black jack with our new year money, which, in addition to instant redistribution of our temporary wealth, was also a rare occassion when everyone is truly equal to others on that card table; but that has since stopped as well with the abandoning of the red envelopes custom at our family.

Alas, being a good daughter of firm belief in filial piety, I still placed red envelopes with what I thought to be fair amount that would make Mom and Dad happy on their desks respectively, before taking off for dinner today. I have been treated like a princess since coming home that this is one of those rare chances when I can say thanks to them. Maybe one day when I strike that pot of gold I can do up the red envelope thing in grand style...

The Wun Family's ancestral plaque is placed in the alcove at Uncle William's home. Actually Dad is the eldest son, but I suppose it is there at Uncle William's b/c Dad has all girls and our children will not be carrying the Wun family name; and Uncle William's son, my cousin Chiway, will be the next person housing the family plaque, and so on, and so forth. As such Uncle William takes care of the family plaque. In this day and age of equal opportunity and male-female equality, it's kind of interesting to think about the reasoning behind this practice at all. But I've grown used to seeing the family plaque at Uncle William's and Aunt Sherry makes sure there's always fruits, flowers and incense in the offering. And even though none of us have ever been to Chuan-Zhou city in Fujian Province of China, I have always felt some sort of affinity to the place since I've seen that city's name for soooooo many years.

Ancestral worshipping is a tradition that I hold quite dear to my heart even though I haven't done it for many years now. When I think of ancestors, I think of my gramps who passed when I was a child. I remember them quite vividly even though they passed when I was only 3 or 4. When I worship them, I simply say a little prayer. This year there was no incense offered. But the food for Chinese New Year was first offered to the ancestors. Which means we get a preview of what we are about to eat...

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