Tuesday, January 20, 2009

About fish, pineapples and mandarin oranges

Besides the colour red which is auspicious, the Chinese also use fish, pineapples, and mandarin oranges during Chinese New Year for the same reason.

Fish is eaten in the dish 'yu sheng' and the dinners will be scooping 'sheng' (a raise in pay or going up for promotion) happily in the process of partaking of the dish containing fish. Fish which is pronounced as 'yu' in Mandarin has the same pronunciation as another word which means 'surplus'. Hence 'nian nian yu yu' translated as 'there is surplus every year' is often uttered in greeting to wish the other party having overflowingn income year in and year out.

Pineapple is pronounced as 'ong lai' which means 'everything prosperous come my way'. It is put on the altar while praying to the deities.

The mandarin orange which is articulated as 'gan' in Mandarin or 'kan' in Malay means 'sweet'. Hence this fruit is supposed to bring sweet things to the Chinese. Mandarin oranges are always brought along to be given to the relatives we visit (By the way, I am a Chinese) in the hope that sweet things (good things) will befall them. They will reciprocate by giving us the same type of fruit too.

1 comment:

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