What are my most unforgettable Chinese Lunar New Year (農曆新年) memories?
Firstly, watching my beloved grandmother making traditional Chinese preserved pork belly* (臘肉) at home; and also, being taken out shopping and trying on clothes for a perfect Chinese New Year outfit by my beloved grandmother.
Since this is a self-styled fashion diary not a food blog, I guess I’ll skip the preserved pork belly and share the shopping story instead.
In all the years that I was raised up by my beloved grandmother, I saw her at her happiest when she took me out shopping. The most important clothes shopping of the year, in my family, was no doubt shopping for the Chinese New Year outfit.
Each year, in the lead up to the Chinese Lunar New Year, she’d take me from shop to shop to try on red clothes – in different shades. As red is considered auspicious, and it symbolizes good fortune and joy in our culture, that explains why this colour is worn and seen everywhere during Chinese New Year.
As a widow and a teacher in a primary school in Yilan (宜蘭市) – a small city in the north-east of Taiwan, my grandmother couldn’t afford to over spend and she never did. By taking me from store to store across the city by foot, to try on and pick just the one, best head-to-toe red ensemble.., it was a mission we both loved and enjoyed. This exercise has served me well as it turned me into a smarter shopper. The effort my grandmother made, showed just how much she wanted to give her favourite grand child the very best she could.
I remember one of those years, after she bought me a bright quilted red jacket, later she saw a nicer styled red winter coat at a different store, she was disappointed with her early decision and we discussed it.
This red coat became a lesson for me about not being too impulsive when it comes to making important purchases and I’m grateful to my grandmother for taking the trouble to share that lesson with me.
Many, many Chinese new years have gone by since those years when we went window shopping together on foot. Memories of these long gone years; I’ve moved to an English speaking country; married and divorced; sadly, my beloved grandmother has passed away… I miss her and think of her every single day.
Last Friday Kent and I were invited to join fashion designer Sylvia Chan for a backyard twilight dinner. It was also the occasion of my first fitting of a stunning dress Sylvia has been hand making for me to wear.
As soon as I put on that dress – in cerise red, coincidentally, the timing only few weeks away from the coming Chinese Lunar New Year! I looked at myself in the mirror, it was all reflected back at me – the good old days; when life was all about finding the perfect new year RED ensemble…..
Photography by: Road Wang