“She is in Phuket… holiday with her family”
“Why didn’t you go with her?”
“If I go, I won't be here for reunion dinner”
At that point, I could see a smile slowly but surely appearing in my aunt’s face, a clear sign of happiness. Of course, the above conversation occurred in Cantonese, as I am the only person who can speak English in the family besides my siblings.
CNY, a very significant festival in the Chinese calendar just ended yesterday. I always wonder, when the current senior generation of Chinese kick the bucket, will CNY continued to be ‘celebrated’? And I mean ‘celebrate’… not taking the whole week off or goes off somewhere for a holiday or gamble all your money away or giving ang pows. Of course, one would ask, how do you celebrate CNY. Well, why don’t you tell me?
One very interesting point of debate in the comments of my previous entry… how do you differentiate between cultural practices and religious practices? I did some thinking today and I realised that the line can be quite obvious.
To me, religious practices are those things that one does which involve an element of spirituality. At this juncture, I shall not brand anything as Chinese religious practices simply because Chinese in Malaysia may embrace Buddhism (mainly), Taoism (mainly), Christianity, Islam or other religion, thus I think we should no longer stereotype anything as “Chinese religious practices”. Besides, there many Chinese out there who may be practising certain religious orders, but yet, are utterly confuse about what they truly believe in. They suffer from the I-do-it-cos-my-parents-ask-me-to-do-it-and-I-have-no-freaking-idea-why-I-do-it syndrome.
What then is Chinese culture? If you do a Wikipedia-search for “Chinese culture”, you will probably get confused reading it. It talks about artifacts, history, evolution… all the heavyweight stuff. For simplicity sake, let’s just keep to ‘practices’.
I believe the following resembles Chinese culture Malaysia:
1) Reunion dinner during CNY eve;
2) Giving of ‘ang pows’;
3) Tea ceremony during wedding;
4) Giving of ‘lai kum’ during marriage;
5) Torture session during the ‘collect the bride’ mission;
6) “Yaaaaaaaaammmmmm Seng” session during wedding dinner;
7) Asking “sik pau mei?” (have you eaten?) when you meet an aunty or uncle by the street;
8) Can you think of others?
I’m of the zewtpinion that Chinese cultural practices are practices that will only be practised by Chinese (under normal circumstances), like those mentioned above. You may see people from other races going to a Chinese temple and put joss sticks, but only the Chinese guys are stupid enough to let a bunch of girls dictate terms at the door-step of their bride’s home and stupid enough to pay the girls for it despite knowing that the bride will marry the groom regardless. That’s what make a Chinese wedding… a Chinese wedding. Get the drift?
Those protocols that may be practiced by people of other races, due to them embracing the common Chinese religion (i.e. Buddhism / Taoism) are not Chinese cultural practices. These are the religious practices, one that may be abandoned by a Chinese when he or she embraces other religions. The threat to Chinese religious practices comes in the form ‘other’ religion’.
On the other hand, Chinese culture is facing the threat of extinction due to evolution. It is something that I believe, will not stand the test of time, particularly in Malaysia.
For example, how many of you didn’t make it for your reunion dinner? Or thought that reunion dinner is a hassle you wish you can avoid. How many of you want a romantic church wedding despite not being a Christian and is willing to do away with the ‘jam cha’ (tea) ceremony? How many of you think shouting ‘yam seng’ during your wedding dinner makes you feel ‘low class’ and it’s something that is “too chinese”?
Of course, I will agree with you if you say practising such practices does not make one a Chinese. But what I am trying to say here is that we, as Chinese, should preserve what is uniquely ours. Although I do believe it is a lost cause, let us try our best in this quest, for Chinese sake… for Malaysian Chinese sake.
[Here ends Zewt’s Chinese series]
Other related entries:
well well... wat shud i say? lol my mind is blank. wat i wanna say have been said earlier.
anyway, interesting writing u hv there. keep it up! :)
hey zewt nice post
agree that some cina type a will try to be uncina as possible by doing away with the yam seng and such.
when i was young, i was also a type a cos of my background la. but with age i accept and appreciate my culture. strangely when i was overseas.
however, it's up to ppl to choose la which culture they like. i see myself as malaysian and celebrate across all cultures...so i don't really see the need to 'preserve chinese culture' for the sake of identity.
imho, we must learn to embrace new elements for our culture to evolve and the human race as a whole.
kyh - i know my post is getting a bit too 'heavy' lately... going to lighten up a bit with some humour next. yours not too bad too.
freelunch - ok, u have to let me know your secret here!! how in the world can u post 5 entries a day and still be able to keep up with the blogs of so many bloggers. are u a robot? hahaha!
anyway, i must say the culture should be preserve for the beauty of it. perhaps not to much of identity, but it will be loss to lose it.
Hello! I do agree with the Chinese Traditions thing. I love following them coz somehow we are Chinese. I'm really sad when my own mother doesn't practice them sometimes but oh well.. I have no say in this matter but I'll definitely ensure that my own family will follow the Chinese traditions.
I think having the Chinese wedding ceremony is nice. With the yam seng and everything. Chinese mah! Hehe..
Reunion dinner!! Must go!
For now, visit as many as possible to get ang paus...but I'm sure I'll be crying the CNY after my marriage.
Yam sengs? Fun if I'm doing it...annoying if I'm not part of it..Guess I'm not so un-Cina after all??
Practising is just one part of it
How many practise it and know what it means in the first place?
Cultures are diminishing as we don't even understand why we are suppose to do it
Another thing to note is the influences from various elements contribute as well
All those chinese customs must stay...and you forgot the firecrackers and fireworks...it's a must to play during CNY, moving into a new house etc. How can we chinese live without that huh??
is that lotus soup?? i want lotus soup!
ahh well i'm a traditional chinese chinese..i don't mind yuuuuummmm cha..reunion dinner (depends with who) =D
FINALE hahaha ........if not ....mr ong ka ting might come looking for you ZEWT
well i always champion that the motto that 'every1 should live their life how they want to' so its up to the individuals to decide what is important to them in terms of culture.....
but to a certain extent we will be influenced by our parents/partners...but never forget some cultures/practices eg. reunion dinner/angpow/gambling...hahah...
we are MSIANS with our own separate cultures thats all
Wui yoh.... Zewt! Do you think you will be silly enough to do all the stupid stuffs and pay the chee-mui next time when u get married? Hehe.
I am one of those who does not fancy a church wedding. Church wedding is simply a waste of time. I prefer the jam-char ceremony where you can get many many ang pows and gold necklaces and bracelets... I go for the $$$$$ hehehe.
And your pic for the reunion dinner is funny. How come there is a scissors on the table? How come one of the plates indicated the person started eating b4 the others? Whats the small bowl for? To feed some toddler? But all looks good. Makes me hungry. Hehe...
yammmmmmmmmmmmmm seng to that! hahahahahahahaha.
Just curious to know if you will still marry your gf if
1) There WILL be a 'collect the bride' mission
2) There WILL be lai-kum & tea ceremony
3) There WILL be yum-seng sessions during the dinner.
It does not mean if one is christian the above 3 mentioned 'cultures' are not practiced. Its a culture & not a religious act!!
Curious to know what will your choices be if u marry your gf..unless of course your gf is a caucasian/indian/malay/etc
It is rather funny that I realised China Chinese people here actually lost a lot of our chinese culture and practises. Not long ago when it was "dong jie", some of my colleagues dont even know what festival is that. It seems that overseas Chinese try to preserve more traditions than the mainland people.
Speaking of that, I cannot remember the last time I celebrate a traditional CNY. The last big family gathering (with massive amount of relatives & friends) is at the years when I am in primary school. Our family opt for travelling for every year's CNY. Personally, I also have minimum/no clues about chinese superstitous stuffs.
GAMBLING FOR CNY IS THE BEST PART OF CHINESE CULTURE!!! AND ALSO ANGPOW!!! (if u r not married)
• I miss firecrackers & fireworks. Where's the fun in pop-pop and Kingcat sparklers only? :p
• I miss lion dances (psst, that is cultural, right?)
I noticed the wedding cake pic is one of a chinese bride and caucasian husband. On purpose, perhaps?
As much as the half banana I am, I would still like to go through all the 'cham cha' ceremony at my wedding even if I have a foreign husband, mainly cause I still wanna keep that heritage with me, and also I'm pretty sure my old folks would love it. Of course, the ang pows that come with it wouldn't hurt ^_-
I've heard thoughts from my friends who fall into Type A thanks to their upbringing and international schooling backgrounds. They moan sometimes about feeling neither here nor there in terms of heritage. And some actually take the trouble to be 'more chinese', or rather, more 'malaysian' in their everyday lives now that they're out of school.
Makes the grass on the other side seem a little less greener, no?
personally, i feel that the biggest difference between chinese and the other races are that we chinese are the most filial races..
Realize that almost everything we do, we must do it according to our parents?
Its not that we dont know their ideas suck..but then..its more like a respect for them... We've been so accustomed with tha, that it somehow made us think "aiya..since ah ma want us to do like this..we do like this lor"
Whereas those young teenagers(like us) who still dont know why our uncle and aunties give in to them will start questioning them...But i believe that, time will prove everything....
i agree with zeroimpact, most of the times, us younger generations dun even noe why we're supposed to do what we're supposed to do etc; 'lai kam' for wedding, 'yum seng' sessions etc...
practice being practice..i think we shud find out the whys, instead of following blindly, like wht u said, Zewt..."I-do-it-cos-my-parents-ask-me-to-do-it-and-I-have-no-freaking-idea-why-I-do-it.
i for one dun mind the tea ceremony during wedding, or the stuffs that needed to be done the night before the wedding..but i cross the line at "yum seng" during dinner..i find tht just too noisy for my liking. also, i will not allow the 'bridegroom doing all kinds of nonsense infront of the bride's hse jst to get her out of the hse' thingy.. tht's just purely a waste of time for me.
but then again..these r all personal opinions. ;o)
princess shin - wow, you're sad when your mom doesnt practise it? wow... anyway, why wouldnt your mother practise it? yes, yam seng is a must!
BlueApple - Hello, welcome to my blog. yeah, reunion is a must! so you're slowly discovering the cina in you huh... :) By the way, what's the address of your blog again?
zeroimpact - precisely, which is why i said many of us are doing it simply becos our parents ask us too and we dont even have the slightest idea. culture... slowly but surely... is diminishing...
Jessica - fireworks do have some sort of superstitious elements behind it, which is why i didnt include it in the list.
Huei - reunion dinner... of cos with family right?
economist - may i ask what is malaysian culture? the tidak apa and always be late culture? haha!
purple mushroom - trust me, many people (especially girls) who are not christian... are faking the whole salvation thing just to say 'i do' in front of the pastor. the picture is taken from my friends's blog ler... dunno why there's a scissors there.
me - dont get drunk oh...
Yam - i WILL DEFINITELY marry my gf if she wants me to do all that. Also... a personal culture... me and my mates sing the school song prior to yam seng at our table. my friend, i already said those are culture, not religious practices, thus, i am all for it.
princess eileen - what is 'dong jie'? aiyooo.. gamble gamble again.... enough lor. but yeah, i think china is really suffering, china is losing her heritage.
wan - yes, lion dance is culture. yeah, picture on purpose... showing that even the kwai lo will have the chiense character underneath the cake.
kudos to your type a friends who make an effort to discover their heritage. well done! one thing, what is a half banana?
vegemaster - indeed, we must make an effort to learn why we practise certain things. time will certainly prove that most things wont last the test of time... no?
grace - hahaha, i think the stupid things your husband-to-be has to do at the door gate is beyond your control. i am sure your sisters will dictate all that.
dah habis??? laaa .... me want more zewt, me want more!!!
I think it happens in all culture and religion. but Malaysia is a evidence of Fusion Society.
We mixed practically everything, from food, fashion, architecture, culture, marriage and as taboo as it is, we have to admit, even religious practices.
As much as I despise the typical malay wedding which the culture actually originated from the indian culture, but sometimes, it redefines who you are, culturally and to be in touch with cultural backgrounds, are somewhat, reviving, well, at least to certain people.
so ... at the end of the day, its about pleasing the old folks, trying to understand your own culture, and still can have the romantic wedding reception declaring your vows, or enjoying those candlelight dinners on new year professing your love, or getting extra cash for car fuel from your aunts and uncle, or at least spare some for your nephews or nieces for their handphone top ups. hehehe.
ahh...tht's where i come into the picture. anyone who does all the stupid stuffs, will kena frm me. ahhaha...=P
i think they won't call "reunion dinner" a "reunion dinner" in the future. more people doesn't go home for reunion dinner because :- they couldn't take leave, the still have to work til very late, they don't like eating with relatives that they don't meet so often, went overseas, or they just hate festives seasons...
about wedding... i think traditonal wedding ceremony is cool. wedding dinner on the other hand, many of them chose to have garden style.. easier. faster. but the church part... i think it's because they watch too much of movies and drama..
well said ... im a christian but i still practise certain buddhism stuff.. like praying to ancestor during cheng meng and all. its a form of respect to them... i wouldnt want my children to not visit my grave too just because of their religion beliefs. thats what i think, anyawys
Well, I reckon if someone who cannot understand chinese language/dialects totally is a banana; a person who can at least listen and understand a bit but can't speak fluently is a banana split? *ducks* :p
I dont want to argue too much on cultural issues.
Lets just say that culture changes. Don't believe me, do a search for yourself. How many cultures were changed in the last 100 years? How many cultures were changed in the last 1,000 years?
What is culture anyway? Yeap the examples you ve posted. And I do most of them. But like you said, doesnt make one Chinese.
And is it that important that whether we do things which are Chinese? And does that mean other races should not do anything that is Chinese for fear of losing their cultural image?
And I think the main reason why culture exist is to instill a certain value or to deliver a certain message. So, if that is the case, question, is there only one way to do it? Must it be via culture? Can it be via religion? Can it be via moral lessons? Or simply a good upbringing environment?
PS: Ability in Mandarin does not make one Chinese as well. How about those who are illiterate? Are they less Chinese?
Or what about if we examine why is Mandarin the Chinese's National Language?
Or if we go back further in history, what language were they speaking?
Contributions to the society?
How? By working your ass off?
We know that is not true.
While hardwork makes the contribution, often, the one who contributes most are the creative ones. Else, we won't have inventions that we have today.
Let me end with my favorite quote,
"The reasonable man adapts to the world, the unreasonable man adapts the world to himself. Therefore, all progress, depends on the UNreasonable man"
shall not leave any comment bout this because personally, I don't like the whole thing about "yam seng"
Zewt, good one as usual.
But u left out one....YEE SANG! Toss it out of the plate if possible. That is certainly Malaysian culture!
I guess you have managed to tackle it again. Oh I am chinese, and Catholic too. But I still maintain the 'Graveyard party' as it is a tribute to my ancestors, though I have never met 3 out of 4 of my grand parents!
And also, lighting up joss sticks to the ancestral tablet is not against my religous believes, yet again, it is homage to ancestors.
I guess it comes down to one's true belief? I do know of some A Types who don't eat the 'siew yoke' that was on the altar table.....
HA HA..all the better, less man more share!
cosmic freak - besides pleasing our folks, it's also about preserving our heritage and making sure the beauty of our race is well maintained till the next generation... chinese or malay or indian. sure there will be more la... haha... but no more on chinese perhaps.
grace - hahaha... your sisters may not like it oh...
dy - yeah, a lot of girls dream of a garden wedding and think every wedding must have the 'i do' in front of the pastor and 'you may kiss the bride' thereafter not knowing these are christians culture. of cos, no one is stopping them.
TTL! - i am a christian and i am doing the same too. guess we're quite the same in this aspect.
wan - thanks for the enlightenment. i guess i am a half banana too, since i cant really read nor write.
Maxforce - ahh... you're back, hope you wont delete your comments later. what you said is right, particularly the dont-speak-mandarin-doesnt-make-anyone-less-chinese. however, to bring illiterate into the picture is somewhat out of the notion... cos it's a totally different perspective.
and oh... guess we all wanna be the UNreasonable man then...
baby sa - aiyo... why not? haha... anyway, to each its own.
Allied - hey, i tot catholics are pretty strict about other religious practices? anyway... the ancestor thing is ok to me, cos i believe it's out of respect. hahaha... i am also a siew yok freak!!!
by the way, what is your blog URL?
Cannot resist the poke at me heh?
Careful, I might have 2nd thoughts :P
My ideas are never easily accepted but glad you agreed with some of it. But you havent address the why is it important part especially since culture changes through time too.
dun think it'll be much of a problem, Zewt..we're all very much english educated..so, yeah... no nonsense all at my future wedding. hahaha....;o)
some malay weddings used to have that 'haggling' at the 'gate' too - must be the peranakan influence, or just universal practice for women to 'letak harga'.
i think it's sad if people stop celebrating traditional festivals altogether, and just go for vacation instead
maxforce - haha, glad you didnt delete your comment. the importance is preserving culture is not so much of a life and death thing, i believe it should be preserve for it is a heritage and the beauty should not be lost. besides making us chinese, it also makes us somewhat, more human... something which is lacking lately.
grace - good for your husband, no torture to him then.
queenB - the torture thing started from peranakan? yeah, at the end of the day, wedding is just a matter of signature if no celebration is done.
Question - would culture alone make us more human? Or is it something else? Perhaps more relevant to upbringing?
Heritage preservation. Why?
In the end, they are all going to be destroyed anyway?
In the end, cultures will be replaced.
Why then, place such importance on a losing battle?
Maxforce..Chinese languages are a tool for passing down culture and traditions and without a strong base in a Chinese language it is very difficult to understand the nuances of Chinese culture. Being able to read/speak and write Chinese definitely gives you a different perspective on who you are and where you come from compared to a Chinese who speaks little or no Chinese. Knowing the language is not the only step in being Chinese but I'm pretty confident its the most important component of Chinese culture, without it the great wealth of Chinese knowledge is inaccessible to the ordinary man/woman.
Suggested reading "Keeping my mandarin alive" by Lee Kuan Yew
I am definately proud to be a chinese, and i do enjoy its culture, will definitely preserve my culture...
To all chinese out there who wants to be uncina, shame on you... wait till your ancestors get you!! kih kih kih...
Well, my point was still the same - what is the point of culture?
For example - what is the point of "collect the bride"?
What is the point of being teased/tortured to death when either way the bride is going to marry the groom anyway?
Just so the bridesmaids could have some fun?
Just so, we could say, we re more Chinese?
What is the point of that?
And to illustrate why it was necessary to bring illiterates into the picture is to answer the comment by friendfromTaiwan.
So assuming I am an illiterate, does it make me less Chinese? Does it make me having less perspective of my heritage or origins? What if I still know the history of China despite being illerate? How would I compare to someone who knows Mandarin but dont know a single shred of China's History?
And another note, during World War 2, massive efforts were carried out to move our "heritage" safe from the Japanese invaders.
I think it was not only sad but plain idiocy to safe the lifeless heritage compared to saving the human lives.
Countless people were massacred and the government then only cared to save the heritage? Blasphemy!
Haha, sorry, I got overexcited :P
Indeed, there is not point in picking up the bride, she is going to be your wife by hook or by crook. And certainly there is no point in getting tortured while picking her up. Also, being in Malaysia, certain no point in braving through the jam just to have a reunion dinner. Then again, if we see no point in all these, what do we see point in? Just in making money?
Lives may be lost in rough times, but the legacy will last forever. The few stupid souls that protect the heritage back then realised it, and it’s up to us whether to accept it.
It is a great feeling that I am getting intellectual comments in my blog :)
Everyone, keep it up!
As for freindfromtaiwan, your latest comment was really good. I always know you're capable of giving such.
Family reunion should be viewed in a different context as in instilling good value as opposed to picking up the bride which brings no value from enduring the torture.
Plus what I meant was in WW2, the Chinese government should have placed more efforts in evacuating humans, instead of dead things.
I cannot comprehend why bother saving "heritage" in exchange for human lives.
whoa maxforce.... LOL chill lar...
And no friendfromtaiwan, chinese ed or not chinese ed, it does not matter. It is how you want yourself to be, choose to be, to know your own culture and heritage. At the end of the day, It is all about your effort to know your own bloodline.
Culture and heritage, they are the ones that brought us up. We learned our moral values through our parent's teaching (forget Pend.Moral),and most of them are basic understandings of Buddha's. I strongly believe that I am who I am today with those teachings. And no I'm not Chinese Literate.
Reunion dinners- might not be important these days, cos of work, this and that. But only at this very time, everyone gets to see everyone, knows hows everyone doing. Practicing reunion dinner teaches us the importance of family values (eg: they r the only ones that will help u when ure in trouble, not ur boss ure trying to work ur ass off for.)
Collecting bride (use TVB dramas as a reference, need to ask grandma next time i see her) - I believe that the older days practices tandus and all. Now we practice them with luxurious cars. To do idiotic stuff to get your bride, I think that was just an extra someone made up years ago.
Older days, things were much simpler back then. Bride combs her hair, wear red outfit, wait for tandu. Bridegroom kicks the tandu, carries his bride, zham cha, bow here, bow there, then party and finally tung fong.
Then came the French Revolution who influenced them the ang moh's style.
Now, same thing but extra tech. Bride combs hair, chat on the phone with hubby to be, wear ang moh dress, wait for menside to arrive. Bridegroom, drive big cars to bride's house, knock door, give ang pau, kena torture, see bride, kiss bride, bawa balik to his house, zham cha, bow here bow there. Later, yum seng till drunk, go back hotel or house flat sleep... no need tung fong, already did it so many times before.
My point here is that, some things were added years later from the original way. You can opt to follow the real one,then good luck in finding the tandus. They added these extra so that everyone could have some fun and memoirs to be remembered. If you dont like it, then discuss with ur bride to diminish that idea away.
Also, regarding to Max Force's "the Chinese government should have placed more efforts in evacuating humans, instead of dead things.
I cannot comprehend why bother saving "heritage" in exchange for human lives."
True, i agree with you. But people back then were somewhat, silly. Sometimes, human race do make mistakes, and they might have regretted it. Too late, yes, but it 's already been done. And so now, the newer generations should learn from the past,and never to do that mistake again. We are better exposed now, and I think we are smarter to differentiate what's right from wrong.
Just a thought from me, peace out~! :)
Hey calvin's girl.
Nice to see you here :)
Seen you before in Patrick's blog.
Yeah, I got overexcited. Sorry!
Erm, but cannot resist poking another one - ehem :P
Culture - what about the "tandu" ?
Oh we conveniently disposed it too cos nowadays we have cars, no need people to carry :P
So same lah, some cultures are to be abandoned simply because they become impractical.
Some just plain silly, I await the day they discard the collect the bride culture hehehe
LOL Max, u r indeed hard to please... *grins*
You know the Pringles advertisement?
"Once you pop, you can't stop" :P
Wow, this is really getting exciting. Thank you calvin’s girl for your insightful thoughts.
Indeed, culture and heritage does evolved over time, and we adopt new practices and new ways of life. The ‘tandu’ is a classic example, being replaced by luxury cars. But I think the spirit behind the practice still stands, that is to collect the bride. This is a chicken and egg argument, where there can never be a clear cut view to it.
The point I am getting at is, Chinese should not abandon their ‘identity’, culture being one of them. Of course, what is the Chinese identity. Well, that, I shall leave it to yourself. But I believe there are certain things that we should not forget.
One thing for sure… a Chinese should not use Chinese to criticize things… as mentioned in my blog…. “ewww, that is so Chinese!”…. it’s an insult to your own race.
“ewww, that is so Chinese!” reminds me of how blonde drama queens remark on something... "ewww, that is sooo not me" .. ishk, feel like slapping them..
That final comment, of course, I agree :)
Surviving for the last half century, I've seen certain Chinese cultural practices invented, practised and some eventually discarded, and I believe culture is a living thing and it evolves with the times. So I don't cry over those that disappear and I don't cheer if someone invented new ones. If they give us happiness doing them, let's just do them. If not, just toss them out. Don't hold on to them and suffer. That's my view of cultural practices. Like an author once said, 'This side of heaven, nothing lasts forever.'
This can't actually work, I suppose like this.
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