By Assunta Ng
Chinese culture has taught my family how to savor luck during the Lunar New Year. But the Year of the Horse has created mysterious circumstances, forcing me to break good-luck rules. Will I be OK this year, or I will I be even luckier?
Rule No. 1 is to avoid anything that has to do with death and to savor luck, according to my mother.
Sorry, Mom, I had to go to the viewing of the late Vera Ing’s body on Lunar New Year’s Eve, to say goodbye. She’s a good friend and former writer for the Asian Weekly. My mother would prefer me to attend the service on Feb. 1, rather than seeing a dead body. I couldn’t leave because the Asian Weekly held a Lunar New Year kids’ costume parade on the same day and at the same time.
Rule No. 2 is not to deal with the number 4, which rhymes with the Chinese (Japanese) character “death.” Mom, I couldn’t help it this year. The Seattle Chinese Post had a 44-page issue on Jan. 30. We could increase to 48 pages, prominently replacing the number 4 with 8 to balance bad omens. However, one member of my staff had an emergency surgery on our production day, so we had to squeeze everything into 44 pages instead.
Rule No. 3, clean your place the day before the New Year to prepare for good fortune. That includes not dumping any garbage during the first day of the year. “Taking your garbage out from your house the first day would mean throwing away all your wealth,” said Grandma.
We tried to remove garbage before the New Year. But we had a big feast for our New Year dinner, and we needed to clear the waste. Otherwise, it would stink up the whole house.
Rule No. 4 is to not wash anything, from bathing yourself to washing dishes, during the first day of the year. It will simply wash away all your luck and fortune. I need to take a shower every day. I bathe myself from my head to my feet, as I wash my hair daily. It’s a ritual I wouldn’t avoid. I have broken this rule for decades. No wonder I have been poor every year.
For years, we saved our dishes that first day and washed them the second day of the year. But this year, we really needed to wash our dishes, as our dishwasher was full. If we didn’t turn on the dishwasher, we would have no clean dishes the following day.
Rule No. 5 is to decorate your home with bright red colors and fresh flowers to ensure good feng shui and energy flowing in your home. I apologize for my laziness. Last December, my friend gave me a beautiful poinsettia plant. It’s still at home except most of the red leaves withered away. The remaining ones now have black edges. Feng shui experts would call it “dead energy,” and advise me to throw the plant away. I don’t really want to do that until the last leaf fades away.
I guess everything that happened to me the first few days of the New Year was meant to be. I don’t really have a crystal ball. I don’t know how my fortune will play out this year. It also dawned on me that there is a difference between keeping traditions and practicing superstitions. We can’t just stick with customs if they don’t mean anything any more in 2014. Could it be the Year of the Horse is time for me to liberate myself? Let’s see how I ride the horse this year.
Rain was good
The weather forecast said rain was not on the horizon on Feb. 1. People just poured in before 11 a.m. to the International District’s Lunar New Year festival. For a while, we couldn’t move on King Street due to the blockage created by people.
Then rain fell at 11:30 a.m. when Chinatown was right in the middle of its Lunar New Year event. I thought we were doomed. We would have to cancel our kids’ parade and costume contest. Rain continued for about a half hour, and the audience dwindled.
When the rain stopped, a different crowd swarmed in. For the first time, rain became a blessing in a community festival. We could move through our intersections. We could open a path for our kids to march to the stage. It was just the perfect number of people on the street.
Moms deserve credit
If I were a judge for the kids’ parade, I would have given many creativity awards to moms who made beautiful costumes for their children. So many of them made horse costumes. One even bought a horse toy for her son to ride on.
Thanks, moms, for all your handiwork. See you next year. (end)