On January 31st, people across Asia and beyond will honor a significant event: the Chinese New Year (or Tết, as it’s known in Vietnam).
“The celebration usually spans across 15 days,” says Emily Tiang, Associate, Technical Consulting, whose family lives in Malaysia where they will celebrate the New Year.
Tiang, along with many Rocketeers, will honor this auspicious occasion in a new way this year.
“We have chosen to celebrate New Year's Eve with our Cultural Heritage & Community Day.”
CHCD (acronym alert!) was inspired by the diversity of ServiceRocket’s Rocketeer nation. While the company honors many country-specific holidays and customs across five continents, it wanted to provide an additional holiday. The intent is to honor Rocketeers' origins and culture, and what they believe in, and then share their story.
“Cultural Heritage & Community Day allows Rocketeers to choose a personal day that honors their heritage, family member or event—whatever is of special meaning to them,” says Rob Castaneda, CEO. “I’m a firm believer that increasing empathy and awareness is the best way to drive our own personal growth and break down existing biases and barriers.”
We’re honored to share these Rocketeers’ stories and traditions.
A holiday of togetherness
“Everyone will try to get back home on New Year’s Eve,” says Tammy Leong, Senior Engineer I, IT Operations, “This is an important time to gather with parents, elders and siblings.” Kai Fung Chong, Senior Engineer II, feels much the same way. “As someone who lives far from home, it’s the best chance to spend time with my family.”
“This may be the only time when we get most of our family together to celebrate,” notes Janice Cheang, Manager, IT Operations. “My baby, now a toddler, was born during the pandemic. Her grandparents missed out on those precious moments. This year we’re bringing her back to where our roots are.”
“In year’s past, my siblings and relatives would travel from other parts of Malaysia, Singapore, Australia to either Kuala Lumpur or my hometown in Ipoh to eat, drink, and celebrate,'' recalls Victor Choo, Analyst, Talent Acquisition.
As family members come together, they’ll honor many traditions to ring in the New Year.
“We will usually spend the morning and afternoon performing ceremonial rituals to pay respect to our ancestors,” notes Chang Yong Yuen, Consultant, Delivery.
“On New Year’s Eve,” adds Kevin Lew, Manager, Customer Support, “family members gather in their hometown, sweep the house and prepare to invite the god of wealth to their home.”
New ways to honor the New Year
“This year, it feels safer to have the entire family vaccinated to enjoy the dinner and revive the long-waited gathering,” says Dave Leow, Director, Support. “As a father of two, I look forward to ensuring these traditions will not disappear.”
Other Rocketeers are finding meaningful ways to honor loved ones and others in need.
“My dad, who passed away in 2020, would invite distant family members and friends to our reunion dinner at our humble home,” says Koh Ping Ng, Analyst, Product Management. “This year, I would like to take this day off to organize a small feast for family and friends who live here in Kuala Lumpur and continue my father’s tradition.”
Victor Law, Manager, Customer Support, notes that “many families will not have the chance to celebrate the Lunar New Year due to the 2021 floods and COVID. As part of my Cultural Heritage Day, I plan to donate to those who were impacted by these unfortunate events.”
Preparing for the big day
“Growing up, recalls Dave Leow, “we started cleaning weeks before the New Year. Even the cars were washed clean! Then we opened the doors and windows to let the old year out.”
“Some people will decorate their house with red lanterns, red Ang Pao, paper cuttings or New Year’s paintings,” adds Kai Fung Chong.
All the while, the kitchen will be busy with preparations for the major event of New Year’s Eve.
A feast to ring in the new year
The reunion dinner is said to be the most important gathering of the entire year.
The meal starts with a dish called Yee Sang, says Eng Liew Lee, Senior Director, Support and a ritual called Loh Sang. “It literally means 'toss life'.
“Each family member holds a pair of chopsticks and tosses the ingredients while saying their wishes for the new year,” says Eng Liew.
“Dishes with lucky meanings must be included,” adds Cyrus Yong, Manager, Financial Accounting, “such as fish, dumplings, Nian Gao (sticky rice cake) and spring rolls.”
After the meal, there's noise making, games, perhaps some friendly gambling and more food. “Everyone, including the kids, will stay awake until midnight,'' recalls Dong Cui, Consultant, Technical Consulting. “There will be massive fireworks and more dumplings as a late night snack.”
Another important ritual is the sharing of red envelopes full of money that symbolize good luck. Juliane Chau, Analyst, Business Partner, whose family is Vietnamese, recalls that “in order to get a lì xì (red envelopes) we would first have to put our hands together and say Chúc mừng năm mới (Happy New Year) as we bowed our heads down as a sign of respect to our elders. Once we did that they will hand us a red envelope.”
Married couples, notes Foo Guan Sim, Manager, Solution Management, are also obliged to share red packets (called angpow in Malaysia) with children or unmarried members of the family. “I think the aim is to make sure everyone gets married as soon as they can to avoid having a negative balance each year!”
Here’s to an abundant 2022. Enjoy Cultural Heritage & Community Day!
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Traditions that look forward.
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