There are those who love meeting other people and talk shit during Chinese New Year gathering, and there are those who just want to be left alone, even if some adult is dangling a $100 ang pow in front of you like you are a cat. But being able to wriggle out of these uncomfortable situations require long-term planning, especially if you do not have the support of your family.
Start this year to work towards having people willingly and passive aggressively uninvite you to their houses for future Chinese New Year gatherings.
Plant The Seed of Hatred
Make the 银柳 Into 残花败柳
Most families would buy a plant, only available in Spring, called 银柳 (Yin Liu; Silver Willow) that are long branches with buds that they place into a porcelain vase filled with ice and cotton wool. Over the course of the Chinese New Year, the buds will blossom into cotton-like flowers, which make a beautiful sight. People will hang ornaments (like golden ingots or red packets) onto it like others do to a Christmas tree during Christmas.
Yes, this is a good target for your plan.
If the buds have yet to blossom, start picking away the brown “skin” to expose the white cotton underneath. People get irritated when their Yin Liu gets “blossomed” prematurely, just like how they get triggered when they know of people who did not stay a virgin before marriage.
In recent years, families have added to their arsenal of Chinese New Year plants a potted lucky charm called 转运竹 (Zhuan Yun Zhu; Bamboo of Changing Luck). Basically, the short bamboos look like your run of the mill straight bamboos when bought, but as they sprout leaves and grow, they start to grow in a spiral like a spring. Some people buy the potted plant with the bamboos set in tiered circles like a wedding cake. Some just buy the bamboos (usually bigger versions) on their own and stick them into a vase like Yin Liu.
The thing is, people buy those to turn their luck around. Usually, it means they feel like their luck is in the sewers and they hope that as the bamboo grows and twists, their bad luck will be twisted away.
Breaking their bamboos will just seem plain evil; the bamboo, if survived the trauma can still continue to grow and twist away.
The more disgusting thing to do is to pour your glass of pepsi into the vase and watch the owners’ faces turn blue.
Or, if the bamboos have already started to twist, make the host talk about his life in the past year and focus on all the blessings in his life he had encountered (this requires a bit of skillful questioning techniques). Once you have compiled a list of all his blessings in the past year, ask, “Then won’t the bamboo twist your good luck away?”
The Way To A Person’s Heart(break) is Through The Stomach
Destroy the CNY Goodies
If, somehow, the host did not buy plants (or they put up fake, plastic ones), attack the food.
No, I’m not asking you to criticize the new year goodies of the host.
“You know hor… Second Uncle’s Ong Lai Tart taste better than yours leh? Where you get one? NTUC har?” *rolls eyeballs*
Don’t think of eating up all the food, so that the host family has to go buy more to top up for subsequent gatherings. No… That will hurt them as well as your body shape (if you have one in the first place).
Offer the goodies (especially those that received the best praises) to other people, best if they are seated across the room. On the way, “trip” and fling the jar into the air. The best outcome will be achieved if the jar is made of glass (or fragile materials).
Chinese hate breaking stuff during Chinese New Year. You also force them to take their brooms/vacuum cleaners out, which is also a taboo. If there are toddlers, they would be startled by the commotion and start crying – triple-taboo-whammies!
Ruin the Reunion Dinner?
If you’re invited to reunion dinners at Chinese New Year’s eve, things will get much easier, since almost everything on the dining table represents something good, which also mean you can break taboos like you break sweat in front of the steamboat.
The fish meant “excess”, so Chinese tend to keep some of it overnight. The key is not to eat up all the fish, which would mean more effort and most likely someone will be able to stop you before you achieve your evil plan.
Attack the freaking head.
A fish without a head is also a taboo! They can’t keep a headless fish overnight, even if the rest of the body is intact. So go for the head!
Also with food, but in general, always keep a lookout for the last piece of meat/goodie on the table. In Singapore, it’s known as the Paiseh Piece (Embarrassing Piece), where people just leave that final piece of food there because it will make anyone who eats it look like a hungry ghost.
The key here is not to eat that piece. OFFER it to another person.
Pester Your Target
Bring that piece to his mouth or onto his plate, so that he would have no choice but to eat it.
Being irritating in your own right is one thing. Rubbing your irritating-ness into their face will make them remember to object to your presence at any future gathering whatsoever.
Ask People Inappropriate Questions
You know… Adults like to ask the younger folks stupid questions. When you are single, they ask when you are getting married. When you are married, they ask you when you are having kids. When you have a kid, they ask you when you want to have MORE kids, or why your kid is not speaking, which Primary School you want to send your kid to…
The best way to make them shut up (and subsequently suggest you be uninvited) would be to counter them with inappropriate questions.
For example, when they ask you when you are getting married, ask them when they are dying.
If they ask you why your kid is not speaking good English (or any other actions that kids are “supposed” to display), ask them if they’re wearing wigs.
If they ask you how much you are earning, tell them “As much as you are paying for your plastic nose lor!”
You get the drift.
Pow Wow Wow with the Ang Pow Wow Wow…
Open the Red Packet
The first one is the obvious. Since young, we were told not to open our ang pows in front of everybody, as it was rude. I think the rule was set up by some stingy adults who didn’t want to be exposed in front of others for being a stingy monkey.
Open up your ang pows like you are hosting a Wheel of Fortune episode. Egg on others to open up theirs like you are hosting Sheng Siong show. Shout “千倍！千倍！” when they are opening theirs, as though you expect your cousins to receive ang pows bigger than yours, and let out a big “Awwww…” when the amount is equal or less than yours.
If their ang pows do end up packing more red-dollar notes than yours (or blue, if you are of high SES), then whine loudly like those uncles who complain about MPs getting high pays while security guards get jailed for sleeping on the job.
Numbering Your Ang Pow Right
If you are in the position to give ang pows (because not everyone is youthful enough to be swiping Tinder/Grindr *flicks hair*), you gotta do it right.
For kids, give $4. Not only does $4 sound like “die” in Chinese, it is also the quantum of ang pows in the 1990s, which definitely helps in painting a bad picture of you. If the kids complain, tell them they have to earn it if they want more. Basically, if the kids hate you, so will their parents.
For seniors, it’s not so good to just give a $4 ang pow; you gotta use different strokes for older folks. For not so senior folks, give them $44, which meant double die. For more senior folks, pack $248, which meant “Die of Hunger” (饿死把！！！) in Chinese. If there are boss-level seniors whom you have to give a big sum due to their super-seniority, give $748, which meant “Go and Die” (去死把！！！) in Mandarin.
Ang Pow for Couples Who Love Baby Bonus Much
You know how irritating it is when couples just give birth to so many kids that it seemed very difficult to recoup your losses? Your only son/daughter only receives a $10 ang pow from them, but in return you have to give $10 x N, where N is the number of offspring from those couples.
The following suggestion is best when they have 4 kids: Give each of them an ang pow, one with $7, one with $1, one with $4 and one with $3. Together, it meant “7143”, which is “妻离子散” or “family gets separated” in Chinese.
Super-Vicious – Use This Trick at Own Risk
If you are really desperate (like want to instantly get kicked out of the house kinda desperate), replace the red packets with white envelopes. Your “ang pow” will definitely be returned on the spot (unless you are giving it to people like me; I won’t part with it over my dead body!)
Chinese New Year is a time for celebration and is a SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT event on the Chinese calendar. Therefore, the best way to get your relatives to stop pestering you to attend gatherings would be to plant the seeds of irritants during this period.
Of course, if your girlfriend is bringing you home over the festive period and you are unsure what to do or not to do, just do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what was mentioned. In fact, wash your future in-laws feet if you can. Getting the stamp of approval from them is more important than gratifying your anti-social tendencies.
If you do intend to adopt my suggestion, which by the way, is a form of sarcasm, because it’s really mean to wreck someone’s mood during Chinese New Year, do them at your own risk. If you succeed, quote me and share my blog. If not, sorry, I don’t know you.
Other Ideas That Didn’t Really Make The Grade
Usually, when I think of such dirty ideas, they just keep coming to me. Sometimes even when I’m asleep. Here are some of the ideas that seem mean, but doesn’t really get onto people’s nerves.
Bring A Mini Vacuum Cleaner
Use the vacuum cleaner and start to vacuum the 银柳 till it becomes bare. The idea is to “suck” their spring of happiness away. Sucking the bamboos also work, since you will be sucking their twisted luck away.
This is a no-brainer. All Chinese know better than to wear black during Chinese New Year, especially on the first few days of celebration. Even modern youngsters who try to be a tad adventurous by adding black in their ensemble avoid wearing all black. Wearing a niqab may push the boundary… Though the host may just mistake you as the Muslim girlfriend of their nephew.
Another Inauspicious Ang Pow Idea
I came across this one after I drafted the above, which was a pig-themed design on the ang pow (since it’s the year of the Pig this year).
Thing is, they “auspicious words” are 猪笼入水, literally referring to “pig basket entering water”. For the uninitiated, 猪笼 was a rattan cage used in the Ming and Qing Dynasties to execute people by putting them inside the cage and dipping them, cage and people, into the water – such executions were usually meted out to people who committed adultery.
猪笼入水 technically described that process.
Somehow, the designer (must be a Singaporean, because only Singaporean “designers” can make such culture-blind blunders) thought that the water gushing into the cage means being flooded with prosperity, since water means money for the Chinese. True… but during a festive season like the Chinese New Year, every single thing used for “blessing” has to be 100% full-proof un-tabooed.
In spirit of the theme of this post, buy the ang pow from Popular bookshop and give it to the wife of the host family (or perhaps the wife of a newly wed) to stir trouble and hence get yourself uninvited!