Reflection On Chinese New Year (CNY).

As I sat in the quietness of my living room, my mind wandered back through time. It floated back to a wonderful period of my life.

It was like yesterday when I was a kid and celebrating the Chinese New Year was one of the highlights that I would look forward to every year.

CNY was a time to be happy and have lots of fun. A time to feel ‘rich’ by a kid’s standard as a result of receiving money from ‘ang pows.’

On the eve of the CNY, my grandmother and mother would spend literally the whole day preparing for the reunion dinner.

I could still smell the roasted duck, the Hakka ‘abacus seeds,’ and all the delicious dishes from the kitchen. We got to eat many of those dishes only during the CNY.

That was also one of the rare occasions when our family would eat together. It was hard to do so because Papa and Ma had to work long hours to keep us together and alive.

Papa would ‘deliver’ his ‘annual address,’ but it was more like a repeat broadcast. His key theme was, “I worked hard so that all of you can be united. You must make something good out of your life.”

Looking back, I wished I knew how to hug him. I wished I could tell him how much I loved him. How much I respected him.

Somehow, I never quite got to do it because outward expression of affection was not common with my family. This was one of the regrets in my life.

(Papa, I wish you are still around. There are more food on the table now and there are so much more we can do together. I miss you.)

After dinner, the kids would rush out to the open areas in our kampung. We would play with firecrackers and all kinds of interesting games.

I knew then and till date, we didn’t need a lot of money to be happy and to celebrate life. We chose our desired emotion and made it happened. Period.

The CNY season was also a time when we could play literally the whole night. We would not be scolded because the Chinese believed that scolding somebody was a bad omen during the festive season.

On the first day of the CNY, you can imagine the kids would be sleeping through a large part of the morning. We had to catch up on our rest after a long and exciting night of fun.

For the first lunch of the CNY, we would be eating a vegetarian meal. It was a time to be grateful for life and thankful for the blessings in and around us.

Grandma and Ma would give us ‘ang pows.’ It started with two 50-cent coins, a princely sum during those days and it was progressively increased over time to reflect a higher standard of living.

The giving of ‘ang pows’ would come with some exhortations. Something like, “Make sure you study hard and have straight ‘A’s on your Report Card.”

Frankly, whatever words that were spoken to us would usually fall on deaf ears. Even if they got through to the mind, they would not be kept there for long.

For us, it was all about the money. 🙂

The purpose of giving ‘ang pows’ has somehow lost its meaning. It was meant to be a symbolic gesture to send our best wishes and blessings to ourselves and to the other parties.

In fact, this was the same underlying meaning behind many of the CNY rituals. They included giving and receiving of oranges and other food items.

The eating of ‘Yu Sheng’ was started predominantly for the same purpose. Obviously, for owners of food and beverage outlets, it was a lucrative way to increase their bottom line.

Malaysians and Singaporeans have separately laid claim for creating the Yu Sheng ritual. To me, there were more important issues that should be debated about and resolved.

My take was that even if Singaporean chefs invented the dish in 1964, our country was a part of Malaysia then.

So, depending on which direction of the causeway I was in, I could prove that Yu Sheng was started in that country. Lol!

The practice of blessing each other should be practiced not just on CNY but also throughout the year. We should speak words of life to others and offer them our best prayer and wish.

Throughout the CNY celebration, we would be doing our rounds of visitation. We had to visit our uncles and aunties and the other elders in our tribe.

We would pay our respect and send them our greetings and blessings.

Most of the time was actually spent watching television, eating CNY goodies and collecting more ‘ang pows.’

Sadly, there were some people who only realized the significance of honoring our elders when they have become adults or have grown older.

Life is about being bonded with the family and with our elders.

In our worst moments, they were oftentimes the ones that would stand behind and besides us. They could share our sorrow and multiply our happiness.

The elders have looked after us in one way or another when we were young. We should look after them in their silver years.

When we are old, I’m sure many of us will hope that our younger generation will look after us too.

We will like them to spend time with us because none of us wants to feel abandoned and lonely. We want to enjoy the human touch and the warmth of a family.

When I was a kid, CNY was also a time to catch a movie. In those days, I remember we could watch a black-and-white movie for just 50 cents per person.

Watching movies during those days could be more exciting than doing it currently even though movies then were of much lower standards.

At the least, it was more interactive.

We would jeer at the bad guys and clap when the heroes appeared. Every now and then, somebody in the audience would speak to the protagonists on the silver screen. Lots of fun.

There was one more activity, an almost customary practice for many Chinese during the CNY.

We gamble.

I used to joke and please take it with a humongous portion of salt, Most Chinese are gamblers. The rest are liars. Haha!

If you cut the veins of some Chinese, you will see mahjongs, playing cards, and gambling chips gushing out. Their DNA has got dices twirling around it.


Seriously, I hate gambling but I love gamblers.

Throughout my life, I have witnessed how gambling could destroy many lives and families.

The worst part about gambling is – It is so easy to be addicted to it and so difficult to escape from its diabolical clutches.

It can locked its jaws on anybody and everybody and enslave the person forever.

Enough said. I am sure you will stay away from gambling at all costs.

This 200-year old dino (T-Rex species) has digressed again.

The CNY celebration is indeed a special one. It brings back beautiful memories for me.

I love the CNY rituals, songs, greetings, food, decorations, visitations and many other related activities.

More importantly, I value the meaning and significance behind them.

They help us to become more rooted and shape our identity so that we can take flight in life.

They provide the foundation and guiding principles to help us build for a better world.

I pray that we will never lose or dilute any of such positive customs and best practices. We will continue to promote them to our children and our children’s children.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at

Please visit my website,

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


About Patrick Liew
About Patrick Liew Patrick Liew MBA, MSc, BSc is the Managing Partner of Global Enterprise Exchange Pte. Ltd.. He is also the founder and director of Success Resources, arguably the world’s largest personal development seminar organiser and a major shareholder of a company, which is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. He was previously the Executive Chairman and CEO of HSR Global Ltd., a publicly listed company on SGX-ST. Previously, he was the regional director of the Gartner Group, providing strategic advisory and planning services to governments, banks and MNCs. He was also the regional head of sales and marketing operation for Dow Jones Telerate. Patrick graduated with a BSc in Estate Management from Heriot Watt University, an MSc with emphasis in global business and marketing from The City University Of New York, and an MBA from Henley Business School / Brunel University. He has also earned more than nine other professional qualifications. Patrick is arguably the first person to develop a multimedia e-learning programme on entrepreneurship. He authored a Chinese book on business systems and was also the co-author of a Times Bookshop best-selling book. Patrick has conducted both ‘brick and mortar’ and online lessons for participants from more than 60 countries. He has also conducted keynote presentations in many international conferences, including being the first Singaporean to teach at the National Association of Realtors. Through his team at Success Resources, Patrick has organised educational conferences for prominent leaders such as President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Michael Porter, Richard Branson, Robert Kiyosaki, Donald Trump, and many other prominent leaders. Patrick provides leadership and advisory services to many professional and charity organisations. He is actively involved in supporting humanitarian, philanthropic and charity causes. He has organised three fund-raising events and in the process, help to set three national records in the Singapore Books Of Records. Patrick won the Entrepreneur Of the Year Award For Social Contribution, the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award, and six other business awards. Patrick believes the best way to live your life is to live your life for others. The more you reach out to bless other lives, the richer and better your life will become. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A Personal Note to my Friends The articles that I post online; or what I term as Love Notes, are written with the purpose of inspiring readers to live at a higher plane in life. They are also meant to motivate those who are struggling in life and help them find handlers to overcome their conflicts and challenges. It is my ardent hope that we will form networks and alliances of like-minded people who will put to right many of the wrongs in our midst. Together, we will leverage on each other's resources and create a synergistic impact in making our world a better home. These articles are written as part of regular reflection about the vicissitudes of life. They are at best work in progress and at worst, grumblings, grouses, and gripings of a finite old man. I have deliberately decided NOT to delete many of the articles and pointers that I may not agree with or are outrightly wrong. This is to keep a record of how my personal ideas, beliefs, and values have evolved over time. In addition, I hope to encourage readers by letting them know that I also make mistakes and am struggling with many of the complexity and complication in life. As long as we hang on to hope and work on finding a solution, there will be light at the end of whatever tunnel we are in. I do not pretend to know everything or for that matter, anything of substance. In fact, the more I study, learn, and think about the vast wisdom and knowledge out there, the more I realised how little I know about life and the ways of life. Hence, I have always ended my article by asking readers to continue to teach me. For I, too, am a sojourner in the exploration of truth and the adventure of finding meaning, purpose, and significance for my existence. I am proud of and make no apology for being a Christian, albeit not the most exemplary one. I believe our Creator can lead and guide us to be the best that we can ever be. I bear full responsibility for the shortcoming and error in my life, including my words. The fault is entirely mine and not due to anyone else. Readers have and can exercise the power of choice. They can discard what will not work for them and adopt those that can propel them further and faster in the pursuit of better performance, outcomes, and fulfillment. If I have disappointed or hurt you in any way, form, or manner, I would like to apologise to you. Please do not hold them against me or whoever or whatever is related to me. There are much to pray about, learn, and do. And I'll work on them with a sense of urgency. I hold on to the belief that 'Anything worth doing is worth doing with passion and excellence'. I'll endeavour to live by it. Life is short. There's no dress rehearsal and neither can we turn back the clock to change the drama of life. Therefore, by the grace and power of our Creator, let's live a full life and live it to the fullest. May God bless you abundantly on the journey of life. Your online servant, Patrick Liew I hope this message will find a place in your heart. By the way, I have also recorded other reflections. Please 'Like' me on Visit my Inspiration blog at For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at Please visit my website, Please read my reflection and continue to teach me. Life is FUNtastic!

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