Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chinese New Year

I just called my friend in Chengdu and they're celebrating Chinese New Year (CNY) at her aunt's house. It's lunchtime and I can hear sounds of firecrackers outside. I think in China, they get the entire week of work/school. Even Singapore gets two days off. Having grown up in Canada/USA, there's not much mention of CNY in the mainstream media/culture. Sure there are events held at the local Chinatown but we don't usually go since my family has never been involved with community or politics.

At work, a Chinese coworker organized a lunch at a local restaurant. They were having a special 10-course lunch for $20/person, tax and tip included. The food was actually pretty good and even though we had 15 people at our table, there was more than enough food to go around. A couple of the people weren't even Chinese... they just like Chinese food. Tomorrow, I'm going with another coworker to San Diego for CNY Eve hot pot. We're going shopping at 1pm so we can bring what we like to throw into the pot.

Over the phone, my friend was asking me what my parents were doing for CNY. This made me think about what makes a person "Chinese" or any other ethnicity? Part of it is genetics but I'm probably more American/Canadian than Chinese. Whatever I know about Chinese culture was learned from my ~9 years of living in Taiwan and from my parents. In Canada, most of our relatives were on my mom's side which means there's also a heavy SE Asia/Malaysian influence. With Chinese people living in so many places outside of China/Taiwan/Hong Kong, what is "Chinese" anyway? As I blogged before, often I feel trapped in between cultures. I'm not 100% American/Canadian since my family culture was pretty Chinese-y. Of course, even though I look Chinese, I haven't lived in Asia since I left 30+ years ago. A lot of stuff I hear from China/Taiwan either confuses me or pisses me off. Oh well, at least CNY gives me a chance to eat with people.

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