It’s Chinese New Year today.

As a Chinese Indonesian, I’ve learned the tradition of Chinese family.

There should be a family gathering diner on Chinese New Year’s eve. All member of the big family get together and eat and get very loud.

The next day, on the New Year’s day, we have to wake up very early (so that we will not miss the blessings), we should not sweep the floor (to avoid loosing any blessings), we should cut our hair (to repel bad luck or in Indonesian we call it “buang sial”). We also have to get ready to go around. Younger sister/brother has to come to the older family member’s house and congratulate them. The older and married family member should prepare money in a red envelope (ang pao) to give away to the younger unmarried ones. Oranges, sweet cakes, sticky cakes are everywhere.

Growing up in a Chinese family doesn’t mean that I did all of those tradition. Especially now. My dad (who was the oldest brother in his family) has passed away. My uncles are in Semarang. I don’t have any grandparents from both sides anymore. My mom is the only child in her family. My married brother and sister in Jakarta are busy with the other side of the family. My mom was “kidnapped” to have New Year’s eve diner with my sister-in-law family.  So it left three of us only; me and my two sisters.

I spent the New Year’s eve with my teacher friends.  We hung out at Starbucks coffee until late at night. Going home so late, I couldn’t make it to wake up very early today. I didn’t cut my hair. We had our house cleaned. And we didn’t go around “hunting” for angpao.  But unsurprisingly, I didn’t loose any blessings. I am still alive, healthy, a part of a family. And when I woke up, I saw a red envelope with my name written on it.

Hm…. as I think through… a part of me is sad because my family doesn’t have any particular tradition we do each year. But another part of me is feeling free, very free.

I am not saying that I don’t like tradition. Many times I envy other families with all of their tradition.

Doing the tradition or not, I am a part of a family. And I am grateful for it.

I am Viliya Dewi Pamungkas, a Chinese Indonesian, no matter what I do and I don’t do. I am grateful for who I am and I am proud to be a part of my family.

Gong Xi Fa Choi! Happy Chinese Year!



2 responses »

  1. I can relate. Our family doesn’t have many (any?) traditions, but I love my family, just as we are!

    We are grateful for who you are and are blessed that you were with our family.

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