Sunday 1 January 2012

Why I like Christmas better than Chinese New Year

It’s New Year's Day already? I guess this means Christmas must really be over.

Yet I’m still seeing Christmas trees around town. (At least I don’t see the Singapore flag hanging outside my neighbour’s window anymore. Majulah!) Other places are already awash with red for Chinese New Year (CNY).

Last Tuesday when I was at the NTUC FairPrice outlet at Yew Tee to buy mangosteen juice, extra soft toilet paper and pimple cream, the supermarket was still decked with faux boughs of holly.

But instead of Yuletide music like, say, Deck The Halls, I heard something in Mandarin that sounded like a CNY song playing over the store's public address system.

I was so thrown off by the visual-audio dissonance that I almost bought mango juice instead of mangosteen juice by mistake. The horror.

Merry Christmas! No, gong xi fa cai!

Make up your mind! Co-ordinate much?

Talk about culture clash. Blame it on the two holidays being only a month apart this time round.

If given the choice, I would extend Christmas and hold off CNY for as long as possible.

Why? Here are a few reasons I prefer Christmas to CNY even though I’m an atheist and Chinese:

1. I don’t have to visit my relatives on Christmas day. Not that I mind my relatives that much (love ya, Ah Ma!), but dragging my family to three different relatives’ homes in one day is about as appealing as a long walk though a dark MRT train tunnel.

2. All the red and gold decorations during CNY are kind of garish. And so cheena.

3. Three words: tong tong chiang.

CNY music is much, much, much more annoying than Christmas music. Way too many drum solos. If I want a drum solo, I’d listen to the live version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and I’m not going to do that.

Christmas music also has more variety, from the cynicism of Tom Waits’ Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis to, uh, the cynicism of Weird Al Yankovic’s The Night Santa Went Crazy.

CNY music could use a Silent Night or two. It’s safe to say Michael Buble won't be making a CNY album anytime soon.

4. Santa Claus seems less creepy than this God of Fortune character even though the latter doesn’t get children to sit on his lap.

5. Bak kwa is more expensive during CNY.

6. I can find bigger discounts at a Christmas sale than at a CNY sale.

7. Shopping for Christmas presents is more fun than queueing for new notes at the bank. Wrapping Christmas presents is more fun than stuffing cash into red packets. (On the other hand, receiving cash is more fun than, well, anything.)

8. While many decry the commercialisation of Christmas - even the Pope urged people “to see through the superficial glitter" - CNY is inherently a celebration of the superficial glitter.

It's about new clothes, new shoes and yes, new notes.

My Chinese language sucks, but I think when you say “gong xi fa cai”, you’re basically wishing that someone makes a lot of money, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But if the love of money is the root of all evil, then CNY is a major root that sprouts annually.

There’s a reason Toto holds a $10 Million Hongbao Draw and not a $10 Million Christmas Draw.

It’s the same reason there isn’t a Glee version of a song called Do They Know It's Chinese New Year to help the starving children in Africa.


Okay, that’s it.

I will stop at eight reasons because the Chinese word for “eight” sounds like the Chinese word for “fortune”.

Hey, I want to make money as much as the next guy. And find a pimple cream that actually works.

- Published in The New Paper, 1 January 2012

Hi there,

how much do you know the history and origin of GOF and CNY?

As a Chinese, GOF is creepy? You are insulting the a taoism God n taoist/chinese culture.

People might write a complain to Singapore Taoism Association!

Pls be sensitive in yr words. And furthermore it came from a Chinese like yourself!


Just wanna let you know that your articles really crack me up, they're so easy, interesting and fun(ny) to read :)

Haha happy new year!


READER'S ANGRY E-MAIL: 'God of Fortune gives as much hope as your lovely chubby Santa Claus'