Daily Express
INDEPENDENT NATIONAL NEWSPAPER OF EAST MALAYSIA
Established since 1963
Reunion dinner a must, regardless

Published on: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Chinese families still hold steadfast to the age-old tradition of having everyone around for dinner on Lunar New Year Eve (today), be it in their homes or in a fancy restaurant.

These days, most opt for eating out given the lavish spread restaurants and hotels offer and - more importantly - the convenience of it all. Eating out means no need to plan the menu which entails striking the right balance between observing the traditions of generations past and the culinary delights of today.

Furthermore cooking for a big gathering can be very taxing. And the best part is, eating out means there will be no dishes to do after the big makan. Nevertheless, some feel there is a certain appeal about having everyone gather at the diner table in one's own home.

Either way, a recent Daily Express survey revealed the Reunion Dinner is a must even though soaring prices have driven some back to organising the event in their own homes.

Angeline Wong, 49, who works in a reflexology centre, said the reunion dinner would be held at her house as has been the practice for years. "We have never missed it as my parents, grandparents and ancestors had kept it a family tradition. We consider the dinner to be a big event for the family as my children, grandchild and relatives gather once a year during the festivity to meet up and foster our family ties.

Wong who has two sons and a grandchild said she and her daughter-in law would cook between eight and nine dishes and some relatives would also bring their own dishes.

Despite recent consumer price hikes, she said they would not be keeping a tight grip on their purse strings as they believe in attracting feng shui, prosperity and fortune for the family. Instead, they would be getting prudent in grocery spending after the celebration is over.

Trader Lucy Chin, 64, in Tanjung Aru said the dinner would be held at her home.

"Although my son is celebrating Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur this time, I will still have it with my daughter and relatives.

"My parents and ancestors observed it at home and I am continuing the tradition.

This is also a family quality time for us to be together to celebrate and enjoy homemade dishes," said Chin who is planning to cook seafood dishes.

Auditor, Grace Chan Pek Khim, 42, said it would be held at her parents' house.

They would be going potluck where each family will cook one dish and bring it over.

"I always look forward to it as my siblings who are living far away are coming back along with our cousins and other relatives.

"Having the reunion dinner at home is nicer and meaningfulÉit is like spending quality time with family," she said.

On the unfavorable economic situation, Chan found the prices of food items used for cooking Chinese dishes and that of mandarin oranges have gone up by between five to 10 per cent.

For instance, she said the Taiwanese orange cost her RM1.70 each. Likewise, sliced meat (bah kwa) has gone up by five per cent this year. Arrow root (nga ku) that used to be sold for RM12 nut now costsRM15 or RM16. Hence, Chan said she would be practical in her spending.

Lawyer Christopher Chong Ket Huang, 42, said his parents would make sure it is held at their house. "Although my wife and I will be spending the New Year by travelling to Amman, Jordan, my mother will be have a potluck session. They seldom have it outside like in restaurants except for Winter Solstice in December which is also a big day for the Chinese.

A 25-year-old entrepreneur, Lo Wei Kee, said her family normally holds the dinner in seafood restaurants as they don't like dirtying their house during the first day of the festivity.

"My family believes that cleaning or sweeping the house would push away the feng shui or good luck and we would not be budgeting in buying the dishes," she said.

Yong Ling Yi, 27, said the affair was mostly at home before her mother passed away.

Now, she would have it outside like in restaurants or at her fiancŽ's house.

"I still remember my late mother exercised prudent spending in buying fresh and raw items for the dinner.

She would budget like RM300 for the dishes as eating outside would cost between RM688 to RM1,288 per table.

"But after she passed away, my father and my siblings and I would eat out in restaurants with my aunt for the reunion.

Or my fiance would invite me to his reunion dinner like this Thursday," she said.