Monday, 19 February 2007

Happy Chinese New Year

Wishing all of you a very happy and prosperous Chinese New Year as we celebrate the year of the Pig.

Today, we the Singapore-Malaysia priests and religious gathered at the Canossian Convent for the celebration of the Chinese New Year. It was indeed great for me, since I have not really celebrated in such a way for the past 5 years. We celebrated the Eucharist, in thanksgiving for the blessings we have received and for a New Year. Interestingly, our main celebrant is an Indian, but this reflects the harmonious society of Singapore and Malaysia where we are mult-cultural. After the Mass, the canossian sisters prepared a sumptous lunch, with "lou hei".

1 comment:

Ambrose said...

Chinese New Year in Rome: The Year of the Pig

The Lunar New Year dates from 2600 BC, when the Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Because of cyclical lunar dating, the first day of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. On the Chinese calendar, 2007 is Lunar Year 4704-4705. On the Western calendar, the start of the New Year falls on February 18, 2007 — The Year of the Pig. If you were born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983 or 1995 - you were born under the sign of the pig. Like the pig , you are highly regarded for your chivalry and pureness of heart, and you often make friends for life. For pigs in 2007, any recent setbacks or obstacles can be overcome so look forward to a year in which to really shine, either personally or professionally.

On the New Year day itself, 18 February, I had a wonderful Chinese New Year Celebration at the Canossian Sisters' General House in Ottavia, with all the students and workers from Singapore, Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. We really "pig" it out with all the delicacies cooked by the Nuns. During the reception we stuffed ourselves with traditional Singaporean cookies like love letters (wafers) and pineapple tarts. The nuns also decorated their reception hall with Chinese calligraphy and lanterns, played traditional Chinese New Year music. It was like Chinese New Year in Singapore in the 1970s. The Canossian Sisters is an Italian Congregation founded by St Magdalene of Canossa. For years, the Congregation has been dominated by Italian nuns. Now at the helm of the Congregation, the Reverend Mother General, is a Chinese Nun from Hong Kong. A very simple, small and highly dignified woman, she welcomed us warmly in both English and Cantonese.

Before the lunch, we had a Chinese New Year Mass presided by an Indian priest from Malaysia, studying Arabic and Islam in Rome in Trastevere. This is not confusion but shows the multi-racial aspect of our societies in Singapore and Malaysia. In his homily, he preached about the importance of the Chinese New Year with references to the sacrificial nature of the pigs in the Bible, when Jesus sent the evil spirit to a herd of pigs and drove them off the cliff.

The Indians from Malaysia and Italians nuns who have worked in Singapore and Malaysia for more than 40 years also joined us. It was a grand gathering. The Cannosian Sisters spent more than a day cooking up this splendid lunch which included raw fish (Yu Sheng), chap chye, mee hoon, roasted pork, curry, gho hiang, and fried fish cooked in traditional Chinese style. Time and again, I am reminded that Asian cuisine is really sophisticated and refined. We pig it out in all sense of the word. The best things in life are good friends and good food. Now I understand why St Thomas Aquinas places so much importance on friendship and social harmony in the second part of the Summa Theologiae.