Probably, the most used greeting is Gong Xi Fa Cai.
In our multi-racial society, this festive greeting has become a salutation used by all the races to greet their Chinese friends. It goes to show how the Chinese long to live in a wealthy life.
However, in recent years, many had, in fact, greeted each other with blessings of the new year or a blessed new year – and thought , rightly or wrongly – that having a prosperous life actually depended on the country’s economy.
This year, Chinese New Year Eve fell on Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the six-week Lent Season in Christian calendar and will lead to Good Friday and Easter.
Praying for the nation has become part of the Christian programme during Lent. And there is really every reason for us to wish each other blessed season – whether during the New Year or the Lent Season.
I have never quite liked the Chinese word fu, which means good fortune. Fu is often pasted on the doors of Chinese homes and business premises in the hope that fu or good fortune will come, or has already arrived.
Not until I read a book titled Faith of our Fathers did I begin to like this beautiful Chinese word. The author, Chan Kei Thong, said fu means blessing or happiness. It is much more than simply good fortune or material wealth.
Chan said the ancient form of the word had the god radical to indicate the word is related to God in spiritual matters. The left side of the word literally means to reveal when it is used on its own, thus reflecting God’s nature and the Self-Revealing One – no one can know Him unless He reveals Himself.
The right side of the word in its ancient structure is formed by a jar of wine at the top and a pair of hands below.
According to Chan, both are suggestive of worship – the wine because it was used in acts of worship and the hands because they appear to be raised in worship. Chan said this composition suggested blessedness was closely correlated with one’s relationship with God.
The modern form of this character is replaced with mouth and field which means possession of food and land.
A superstitious practice of Chinese worship is to paste the word upside down to mean fu-dao – fu has ‘arrived’.
‘Arrive’ is pronounced the same way as dao upside down. When fu is upside down, it sounds like ‘blessing has arrived’.
Chan concluded that this symbolic topsy-turvy understanding of blessing actually was very revealing of how the concept of blessing had become distorted.
In ancient times, the Chinese understood that responding in worship to God, who loves us and wants to live in harmony with us, brought unmatched peace and joy – in other words, blessings.
Hong Kong-based feng shui expert Cheng Chi-tai told AFP the ‘Year of the Goat’ (or Sheep) is ‘comparatively tame’ – meaning if there is any challenge, everyone can come together to solve it.
The best traditional seasons can offer is time to reflect. Thoughtfully.
It is in a situation like what Charles Wesley described: “Lost in wonder, love and praise.”
I am not superstitious but I like the line that ‘everyone can come together to solve it’. Looking at the country’s situation – be it political, social or economic – it’s all in turmoil.
We need the ‘Zodiac Sheep’ to come together united – in caring, sharing, helping, loving and giving.
That reminds me of the nursery rhyme ‘Baa baa black sheep’. The black sheep has bags full of wool which it shares with everyone – from the master, the dame, the little boy, the little girl, the old man who lives down the lane.
How many bags full of wool I have?
How many have I received from others so that I might grow, accomplish my goals, find wholeness and satisfaction, and reach beyond the tiny, limited lane of my paths?
There are many who have given lavishly – the love, faith and hope. Thank you for each one – whether they are still giving and sharing – or for the courage and love of our loved ones who have passed on.
Giving, caring, sharing, helping and loving are our ways of living and to face the challenges ahead.
Baa, baa, all sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Many bags full.
Some for my Master
Some for my Future
The rest for sharing
With the people on the lanes
A blessed Chinese New Year to you all. You are blessed to be a blessing to the nation.