Chinese New Year 2008

In Singapore, having a Chinese majority population (75.2% of 3.58 million residents as of 2007, see Statistics Singapore), the single most important holiday to most people is not Christmas, Deepavali, Hari Rayan Puasa/Haji (though these holidays are the most important to the respective races), New Year, or even National Day. Its… well, the title gave it away, yes?… Chinese New Year, the date of which changes from year to year as it’s based on the lunar calendar. On Lunar New Year Eve, a rarity occurs in Singapore – most shops stop functioning in the middle of the day as people congregate at home for the reunion dinner. So it was this year.

J.’s family has a reunion dinner on the eve of CNY before heading to a neighbouring country to meet up with the extended family for an extended reunion dinner on the first day of Chinese New Year which spans 15 days (but it’s only a public holiday for 2 days). As a point of interest, it should be noted that, in the spirit of multi-racial harmony, CNY is also a public holiday in Malaysia and Indonesia, countries with a bumiputra/bumiputera majority.

Last year (2007), CNY was right smack 2 days before Obstetrics & Gynaecology exams and J., for the first time in years, was unable to do so. This year, it was time to resume the practice. Possibly the last easy one he can do. Working doctors have often had the ill-fortune to be on call on: Christmas, New Year’s Eve and now Chinese New Year’s Eve.

So it was off to Malaysia to meet up with the extended family. Once again, it was good to eat authentic Hakka food, like thunder tea and yong tau foo (steamboat for the extended family reunion dinner). It does seem to J. that every year somebody is unable to come back, likely due to the family being quite international with members in Canada, China, England, Germany, Australia, USA and Taiwan.

After being stuck in traffic on the way back via the Second Link on Saturday, J. finally returned home on Saturday evening. The next day, it was another reunion of sorts, this time with folks he had traveled with for 3 weeks approximately 5 years ago. Good stuff.

Most importantly, of course, was the respite from studying. It’s unfortunate that it’s come to an end so soon. Well now, there’s always next year to look forward to.

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