|Baby L and his first encounter with 'ang pows' aka red packets|
But it's true that here in Karlsruhe, the celebration is pretty much nonexistent, with Fasching/Karneval taking center stage at the moment as children get dressed up in costumes for parties and people get ready for parades and events held through the city. (For those not in the know, Fasching/Karneval are pre-Lenten festivities celebrated in the predominantly Catholic regions of German-speaking countries. Here are some further info if you're interested.)
Anyway, I always miss Malaysia at this time of year. Even though it hasn't really been my home for the last ten years, I do have about 18 years of early, wonderful memories at this time. And it's a special time. I miss the visiting of friends and family, the special Chinese New Year goodies prepared only during the season, the 'yee sang' tossed and wished upon, the red, festive, decorations everywhere you look, the new outfits you get to wear for the first few days, and when I was younger, competing with my cousins to see how many 'ang pows' we'd have collected by the end of the 15-day celebration.
In Auckland there was a big enough Chinese community that the city even staged events like Dragon dances and Chinese food festivals, so you never felt too isolated or far away from home. And as a student in Michigan, I spent Chinese New Year with a large group of other Malaysian students and we all cooked and feasted and kept each other company during the period, so I never felt like I was missing out.
But this year, here in Karlsruhe, it's a little different. The Chinese community here is very small, and the Malaysian, practically nonexistent. Nevertheless, we wanted to celebrate somehow and for our reunion dinner (an important part of the celebration held on the eve of Chinese New Year, where the family gathers and share a large meal), we tried to look for special menus at local Asian restaurants in the city to no avail.
Instead we headed to 5 Sterne China Restaurant on New Year's Eve - a Chinese restaurant close to us that The Husband and I have dined at a couple of times that we know at least serves authentic Chinese cuisine. There, I shared a delicious meal with my family complete with steamed fish, tofu, crispy duck, fresh prawns and delicious vegetables, and we celebrated being together.
And in lieu of dressing up in new clothes, visiting friends and families, and open homes, we spent the first three days of the lunar calendar walking in the snow in Karlsruhe and Baden-Baden, soaking in the beautiful winter sights, and also took my parents to Heidelberg for a day and witnessed some pre-Karneval events in front of the city council.
|Pre-Karneval events in Heidelberg|