Quiet Chinese New Year

Quiet Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year to stay quiet for some.

SINGAPORE - No reunion dinners. No festive goodies at home. No visiting.

Ms Jennifer Foo, 20, is unsure if a reunion dinner with her immediate family members is on the cards on Wednesday, the eve of Chinese New Year.

"If it happens, it happens. It didn't happen last year," she says nonchalantly.

The lack of usual must-do reunion dinner plans aside, she adds that there are also no festive goodies in her home.

Neither is her house decorated to welcome spring.

Oh, and she last saw her paternal grandmother 13 years ago, when she was seven years old.

"I'm pretty sure she's still alive, but I'm not sure if my father visits her. He doesn't really talk about his family," says Ms Foo, who is taking a gap year before university.

She is not alone in her sentiments.

SundayLife! found several individuals for whom Chinese New Year does not entail visiting relatives, reunion dinners or other festivities, and whose actions seem to go against the spirit of the season.

The custom of reunion dinners came about because in the days before modern and affordable forms of transportation, it was difficult for family members living in various parts of China to return to their hometown more than once a year.

Chinese New Year was the only time when they would make the journey home for a reunion.

Visits are an extension of the reunion dinners, for people to exchange greetings and catch up with their friends and relatives after making the journey home.

In Singapore, many families also decorate their homes and buy snacks and goodies in preparation for such visits.

Not housewife Catherine Lim, though.

Says the 56-year old: "I don't like having Chinese New Year flowers and plants in my house. It makes the place messy."

She does not buy any goodies either because she does not have any visitors during the festive period.

Visiting for her and her taxi driver husband, 61, ceased after 2012 following the death of her mother- in-law.

"After she died, I had no desire to celebrate CNY," she says.

Her own mother died a year later, which made her even less in the mood for the season's festivities.

The couple have a son, 29, a social entrepreneur, but he often takes off for business trips during Chinese New Year.

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