Chinese New Year – typically an occasion for families to come together for reunion dinners, house-visiting, and awkwardness for anyone single above the age of 25. The family dinner on New Year’s Eve is probably the most significant meal a family will have for the whole year.
For me, being a foreigner with no family here, Chinese New Year has taken on a different kind of celebration. During the early new year period (New Year’s Eve and the first two days), food courts, hawker centers, and most other businesses are closed. As these are the places where I get my meals from, it becomes difficult to eat. A little planning is necessary.
So I have dubbed Chinese New Year the FESTIVAL OF FAST FOOD. It lasts for 3 days and also involves visiting… visiting the temples of Mcdonalds, Subway, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
It is a celebration of the vitality of life… being able to eat quickly, cheaply, and getting your full range of nutrients, additives, and processed chemicals. When I order my food take-away, there is sheer joy in walking home, the french fries in the brown paper bag tempting me to dive in immediately.
Of course there are customs during this Festival of Fast Food:
- Similar to how one is not supposed to wash their hair on the first day of the new year (it washes away wealth), one is not allowed to wash their fingers after eating KFC until first licking them.
- Before eating the Lo Hei salad for CNY, the sweet dressing and wonton skins need to be put in… which is the same rule that you never eat a Subway sandwich without adding at least mustard, mayonnaise, or vinaigrette.
- Wearing red during CNY is important to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. In the Festival of Fast Food, the corresponding rule is to drizzle ketchup all over any french fries. It wards off the perils of overcooked fries and too little salt. On a related note, I enjoy soggy Mcdonalds fries.
- For CNY, they say what you do the first day of the year will reflect the rest of the year. That is why on the first day one must eat at Burger King. Cause after all, it’s good to be king.
Follow these traditions and you will enjoy a bountiful Festival of Fast Food.
(You can translate the above from Simplified Chinese to English)
May the cheese melt from the skies and the fries sprout from the earth. A big belly and flowing arteries for all!
Happy Festival of Fast Food!