Anna An and Andy Wong will tonight usher in the Year of the Ox by feasting on traditional fare and exchanging good wishes with family and friends.
While their celebration will be a little smaller than usual, the couple will fuse time-honoured rituals, brought to Adelaide from their respective home cities of Shijiazhuang and Hong Kong, to mark the Lunar New Year.
“In China, it’s a very big event when all the generations of my family gather – more than 100 people – usually at my grandparents’ house,’’ said Anna, an accountant at Centacare.
“Even though the atmosphere is not as bustling here as it is at home, we always keep to tradition.’’
Dumplings to symbolise wealth, and steam pork buns will feature in Anna and Andy’s `reunion dinner’ tonight, considered to be the most important meal of the year.
Back home, their families will immerse themselves in all the comedy, music and colour of the Spring Festival, which starts on the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends during the first full moon, 15 days later.
“It’s a bit like Christmas when the whole family tree comes together,’’ said Andy, Manager of Family Dispute Resolution.
Children will be at the centre of celebrations for fellow Centacare employee Karen Wang, and her Italian-born husband.
Karen grew up in Canton and moved to Adelaide in 2004. She has made a point of passing on treasured childhood memories of Chinese New Year to her twin girls, who marked their first spring festival aged just two months in 2016, with a visit to Zhulin Buddhist temple in Adelaide.
“Many temples will be extremely busy and beautifully decorated during Chinese New Year, as people visit them to light incense and pray for blessings and good luck in the year ahead,’’ Karen said.
“Before Chinese New Year, people traditionally carry out a winter-cleaning of their house to sweep away the dust and bid farewell to the old year.
“Just like Christmas, we have special decorations. A few of my favourites are the little Mandarin and blossom trees, which people pick out from the market and hang with red envelopes with money, to represent good luck and fortune.’’
Karen said children often received paper windmills to “bring a better year’’ ahead.
“One of the most iconic performances is always the dragon dance believed to scare away evil spirits and bring good luck and wealth,’’ she said.
For Centacare Software Solutions Developer Sok Chuan Yap, Chinese New Year is traditionally a hectic mix of food, family and travel, interspersed with games of mahjong, similar to dominoes.
Sok moved from Malaysia to Adelaide five years ago and celebrates each year in the hope his three children will one day pass on the same customs to their families.
“It brings everyone together,’’ he said. “Every year, we give red packets, called ang pao, with money to our children and they will say a blessing to us.’’