Your Traditions and Your Values – sharing cultures
January 28th 2017 is Chinese New Year; it is also known as the spring festival or lunar new year. It goes for 15 days. Chinese New Year is predominately celebrated in countries where there are significant Chinese populations.
Traditions travel with people. When my ancestors and many others left China for Malaysia those many years ago, they maintained their roots and traditions, together with their country men and women in Malaysia, where they settled and started their families.
Right now, my family has been in Australia for the past 20 odd years, and we too maintain our roots and traditions (to a certain extent) and celebrate Chinese New Year with fellow friends and families. We still have steamed boat (hot pot) in our home on Chinese New Year's eve where the family will enjoy the meal together, or as we call it "reunion dinner or meal".
The reunion meal is one of the most important meals for relatives living far away, so they can be back home to unite with the families. This reunion is believed to symbolise unity, joy, harmony and the strength of the family.
Depending on where the traditions originate, some families will have dumplings, raw fish salad or "yu sheng" etc. However, with more and more Chinese families living in various parts of the world, the traditions are modified and unique to where they live.
No matter where you are in the world and what your family traditions or cultures may be, I am a big believer of practising and sharing your cultures with your children where ever or whenever feasible.
As for Chinese New Year, I will make some of the traditional Chinese new year cakes for my family and friends whom are so happy and appreciative of them. The family enjoys them because it reminds them of their childhood, their families, their memories, their roots, their values, who they are and where they belong, and they taste great :-).
Why are family traditions and cultures important to families?
Traditions are beliefs or behaviours with symbolic meaning or have a special significance (Refer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tradition) that your family and the community practice over and over again and pass them down through the generations.
Traditions form part of their identity, and remind them of their values and who they are, plus what is important to them as a community or family. For example, at Chinese New Year, the Chinese all over the world will be celebrating on the same day throughout the world. The rituals that are practiced are having a Chinese New Year eve reunion dinner, no sweeping the floor or cleaning during the 15 days of Chinese New Year, while the children will receive red packets from the elderly friends and family members…
Family Connections and bonding
Cultural celebrations are also a good opportunity to reconnect, by doing things together and sharing the event as part of the family.
Every family has their own culture or family rituals that create an opportunity to meet up face to face, prepare the food together, eat together and practice similar customs with the family as well as the community.
Security of family
For family members that live far away who could not be back for the reunion or celebrations, the comfort and security to know that they will be missed, and the effort to connect with the family via email, cards, letters or phones makes the family closer and more bonded.
On top of that, family members who live away may have the opportunity to celebrate the occasion with friends who live close by them. This may give them great comfort and the feel of security knowing that their friends also celebrate and share a common tradition.
Through family traditions, such as the Chinese New Year, it is an opportunity to impart important values to the younger generations. Key values are the importance of family unity and harmony, respect of the elderly, and to appreciate family history.
I have a wonderful memory of celebrating Chinese New year with my families and friends. I recall how we celebrated, what traditional food we made, and the weeks of preparation leading up to the occasion.
Those were fond and joyful memories. Take note: children remember and learn from their experience rather than what you say, and family connections and bonding are built from shared experiences.
Have a fun and memorable time with your family.