Lunar New Year is here again. Chinese all over the world are celebrating this occasion. Prior to the very day of the new year, reunion dinner is a tradition to be observed where family members gather to have a great meal and a good time enjoying one another’s company. This tradition has been passed down through generations and is still being kept by Chinese everywhere.
This is an important event especially for Chinese in China where they work in cities far away from home and they only get to go home once a year to be with their family. This home coming puts China’s transport infrastructure into great strain with the legendary exodus of hundreds of millions of Chinese returning to their home town. Sometimes, the high way would look like an open air carpark during horrible traffic jams due to traffic accidents or inclement weather conditions.
Nevertheless, reunion dinner is a gathering Chinese will not want to miss longing to see their parents and siblings after months of separation due to work or business or even schooling. However, for Chinese living in small cities where there are constant interaction and regular meals together with family members, this reunion dinner, though a Chinese tradition, has lost some of its meanings. It becomes a chore and a burden for those living in fast pace city lives, hardly have the time to cook at home, let alone prepare dinner for big family gathering.
Besides reunion dinner, preparation for Chinese New Year cost a lot of money. Chinese will want to buy new clothes, new shoes, new bags and if possible even a new car. This is in addition to food and snacks to be purchased to entertain relatives during visits and of course decking up the home after an exhaustive spring cleaning and all these add to the cost of the celebration. Another very costly aspect of the celebration is giving out red packets with cash inserted inside to be given to children once they are married.
So this is the time of the year small kids are taught about receiving red packets containing cash inside. This is supposedly to make them happy with blessings but in reality teaches them covetousness, a time of exploitation and extortion. They would some day grow up having to be givers so might just as well collect as much while they are still eligible, especially to help parents recoup the cash they have to give out to other people’s kids.
Hence, it is so common to hear Chinese bellyaching about having to find money to go through Chinese New Year. On the social media, one guy was complaining about having given his dad who is retired several hundred dollars for red packets to be given out during Chinese New Year, his dad spent them all in a week. Another woman was complaining about the restaurant she works at promised to give employees bonus but failed to materialized in the very last minute. She was given an advance half a month salary a week ago and she had already spent them all on stuff for the new year. She was lamenting where she might find money for expenses for the next few weeks having to pay school fees for children and transportation expenses at the very last moment just before Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year indeed comes with terrible burdens. Some people have been retrenched recently. How are they going to face their family members and relatives during this festive season? There is no end to trouble for those who are in financial difficulty. The article here summarizes services available to make Chinese New Year less stressful for busy city folks.
Of course if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, Chinese New Year offers great business opportunity too. The Rent-A-Girlfriend Apps becomes an instant sensation because during Chinese New Year gatherings, instead of genuinely concern about each others welfare, it usually turns into a show-off convention with busy bodies asking personal questions causing embarrassment to some young people.
Besides questions about marriage prospects, relatives also take the opportunity to compare occupations, wealth, children’s academic performance and many other vanities in this life. Unless you have money, Chinese New Year is not fun at all. Chinese New Year is all about wealth and getting more wealth.
As Christians, we see through all these vanities of life what the scriptures warn as worldliness and worldly lust. The Psalmists aptly exclaimed:
Psalms 39:5: Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.
Psalms 39:6: Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.
Nevertheless, many Chinese Christians still celebrate Chinese New Year. Some no doubt have to suffer the burdens associated with all the encumbrances during this festive season if they are unable to disengage themselves from pesky relatives and all other vain and superstitious practice.
Actually, as Christians, we cannot blame the Chinese for going after all the material things in this life because they don’t know God and don’t have God’s promise to provide for them and take care of them.
Matthew 6:28: And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
Matthew 6:29: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Matthew 6:30: Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Matthew 6:31: Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
Matthew 6:32: (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
Matthew 6:33: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
So Christians should not condemn or despise the Chinese for all this pursuit of wealth to impress relatives that they don’t like with the money that they have during this time. We should pity them for the burden they have to go through during this time. Some would no doubt end up with substantial debts to clear once the celebration is over. Of course there is nothing wrong wishing everyone well during Chinese New Year, especially wishing peace and blessings from the Lord.
As Christians, whatever calendar we observe, it is another year closer to the Lord’s glorious coming for us. It is a time to give thanks for God’s goodness for the past years and the rich blessings the Lord bestows upon us that we least deserve. May all Chinese Christian the world over rejoice in the Lord during this Chinese New Year.
Wishing all Chinese brethren God’s peace and blessings from above during this festive season.