An Overseas Chinese Abroad

CNY goat

It’s nice to see pictures of family reunions, feasting and celebrations. Here in Jerez, time passes by like any ordinary day with not another Chinese person in sight, the spring festival brings peace and quiet reflection, fond memories of lunar new years past and loved ones all over the world.

As if to lift up the spirits, the sky finally cleared up after days of grey overcast. Chinese New Year’s day started with a bright brilliant morning, a clear blue sky all day, a cloudless night with the new waxing moon and Venus by its side.

The streets are lined with orange trees all over the old town and the fragrance of spring fills the air. It was beautiful.

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Gong Xi Fa Cai!” Steve wished me at dinnertime as we listened to Chinese songs from his collection from Singapore and Malaysia. “How does it feel to be Chinese? Or Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese) as you probably are.”

And we went into a discussion about the notion of nations, the Chinese diaspora and racial dilution that I won’t bore you with.

But honestly, what defines a person? – race, culture, heritage, history, nationality, or where you live, what you do, things you like, people you’re with, values, practices, attitudes, outlooks?

Chinese New Year celebrates the coming of spring in agrarian societies and the tradition continues. Tradition is good. Reminds us of our roots. But our roots don’t define us.

I look Chinese, speak Chinese but I’m not as Chinese as a PRC or Hong Kong or Taiwan Chinese.” I explained to Steve.

Amongst the Chinese, we know where we stand in the Chineseness of things. And that makes it so fascinating. There are so many sub-cultures within the main Chinese culture.

And like everything else, one is an adaptation or a corruption of another over the years. What’s pure and original has been weakened and strengthened at the same time to create new traditions which will continue to evolve.

Throughout the 15 days of celebration, Chinese all over the world usher in the New Year with lion dances and other auspicious activities, wishes for prosperity and good fortune.

From Spain to my family and friends everywhere, my sincere greetings for this Chinese New Year –

祝你 新年快乐, 身体健康,万事如意

Wishing you Happiness and Good Health for the New Year, and Success in all you do.

Joan Yap

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