Grandma Wang Guo Jin-hua's Lunar New Year's Celebrations and Traditions／阿嬤們的高雄新年 王郭錦華─褪赤腳的趣味新年
Grandma Wang Guo Jin-hua's Lunar New Year's Celebrations and Traditions
◎English translation: Hou Ya-ting ◎Photo by Pao Chung-hui
Fosngshan native, Grandma Wang Guo Jin-hua was born in 1932. Even though, she grew up in a time when people didn't have much money, she felt her childhood was still so much fun and full of joy and laughter. Although, life was tough in those days and children had to bear a lot of responsibility, they still enjoyed life's simple pleasures and enjoyed the time they had to hang out with their friends.
When Grandma was young, schools did not have uniforms. Students wore causal clothes, as they were had to go out to work in the fields afterwards. Students would carry their books in canvas bags over their shoulders. Most students didn't even have shoes, so they went to school barefoot. When students returned home from school, they would drop off their book-bags and rush out to the fields to find river snails. During the sweet potatoes harvest, students would line up behind the farmers to pick up those that were too small. They would later be dried and shredded or cooked with rice. Whenever Grandma Wang Guo heard the neighbors were going to flood the fields, she and her younger siblings would rush out to catch fish.
For 58 years, she owned and ran a grocery store on Shuangcih Street. Several years ago, she handed the business over to her son. However, she often goes to the shop in the afternoon to pack millet and measure out mung beans for clients. "Working everyday maintains my health," states 84 year old energetic grandma, who seems to have defied aging. Her unbreakable bond with her shop is exemplified in her devotion to her work. With her distinct warm character, her clients always enjoy seeing her.
When asked about the Lunar New Year, a big smile appears on Grandma Wang Guo's face. "The Lunar New Year feast is always more bountiful than the usual meals we have," she explains. Preparation begins a week before. Classic customs included preparing the Lunar New Year's feast and the offering table to worship the gods. They would also hang couplets written on strips of red paper on the front doors of their homes and receive red envelopes from grown-up.
When Grandma Wang Guo was young the currency of the time was the Tsiam. Whenever she wanted candies, she would ask her grandma for one Tsiam, which would buy two candies. Red envelopes would contain five Tsiam which would purchase 10 candies that would last her for half a month. Another family tradition included the children waking up early and going to pray in Fongshan Shrine from five to six o'clock on the first day of Lunar New Year.
On the second day of Lunar New Year, families would visit the mother's family home. Grandma Wang Guo remembers there would always be a house full of people, with elders and children around table. The holiday atmosphere, the delicious smell of dishes and holiday spirit bring back special memories for her. Grandma Wang Guo also enjoyed the week-long vacation that came with the New Year and not having to do to any chores. For children it was great to be able to relax during the New Year.
Although life was difficult in those days, they were still happy times. For Grandma Wang Guo, Lunar New Year was the best time of all. Filled with tradition and surrounded by family, she still looks back on it with fond memories. A resilient and hardworking Grandmother, she is continues to be a gem of Fongshan.