Thursday, February 05, 2009

What Exactly Is a Fat Choy?

Chinese New Year with Grandma

Every year around this time, I have to write a post about how I'm so not Chinese.  Either my parents have overcome all the superstitions around Chinese New Year, or I was totally oblivious.  Every year I learn something new about Chinese Year, either from books (yes, even children's books), the news, and even bloggers.  For example, I learned from Momisodes that you're not supposed to wash your hair on Chinese New Year.  And according to the children's book, My First Chinese New Year, you're also supposed to cut your hair in preparation for the new year.  Except that I purposely didn't cut Adam's hair because I knew that Grandma loves his hair long.  She said he looked handsome like Harry Potter.  Harry Potter, Chinese New Year, what's more important??

This year, I also learned from NPR that you can leave an offering of a whole chicken for the kitchen god at Chinese New Year.  I didn't even know there was a kitchen god until I read Amy Tam's The Kitchen God's Wife.  And see our hot pot dinner?  Lots of beef, pork, shrimp, fish, dumplings, squid balls (yuck!), veggies and noodles.  No chicken.

I read My First Chinese New Year to Dova that evening and at the end, there was the greeting "Gung Hay Fat Choy".  She immediately asked what a Fat Choy was.  To which I replied, "I don't know, it's Cantonese."  I couldn't remember the Mandarin greeting until I saw it on Asianmommy.  Of course, Xin nian kuai le!

So Happy Year of the Ox to everybody!

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1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Kung Hei Fat Choy == Gong Xi Fa Cai
Sun Nin Fei Lohk == Xin Nian Kuai Le

Fat Choy = Get Rich/Be Prosperous (it's also a homophone for a type of cyanobacteria that was popular to eat at Chinese New Year with hot pot, but is endangered now. )