The biggest and most important event in the Chinese calendar was celebrated with an abundance of food, fun and tradition across VMCH.
VMCH’s Multicultural Wellness Centre (MWC) – which will celebrate its official opening on April 5 – marked Chinese New Year (February 8-22) with some festive outings and traditions for its 50 Chinese-speaking clients.
MWC Coordinator Rani Wong said planned activity group members were treated to a special Chinese New Year lunch, also known as ‘Reunion Dinner’, at Ocean King in Glen Waverley.
“It is very large and sumptuous occasion that includes meat and fish as well as all kinds of vegetables,” Rani said. “The pronunciation of fish makes it a homophone for ‘surpluses’ and the fish is not eaten completely, as the Chinese phrase ‘may there be surpluses every year’ sounds the same as “let there be fish every year” in Chinese pronunciation. Sweet food is also necessary in the wishing of a luscious life in the next year. The number of dishes is also important; the number is always six, eight or ten, which means smooth, getting prosperous and perfect, respectively.”
Chinese New Year decorations were hung throughout the MWC, while a ‘Tray of Togetherness’ was made for clients to snack on with fruits such as preserved kumquats for prosperity, coconut for togetherness, longans to bring many sons, and red melon seeds for happiness.
Rani said celebrating Chinese New Year was sometimes challenging for older migrants.
“The festival is not celebrated here the way it would have been in their country of birth. For seniors, every festival will remind them their own town and own home overseas. We hope our social groups help them to connect to their own cultural events and make them feel part of the ‘big family’ we’ve created at the MCW.”
Nai Lan Zhao (pictured left), originally from Beijing, said she celebrated New Year with a family feast.
“I prepared a traditional dish, dumplings, for the feast which means ‘wealth’. Our family decorated our house with red lanterns and New Year paintings. I also gave my children and grandchildren red envelopes after the Reunion Dinner, wishing them health, growth and good studies in the coming year.”
Chow Mui Moo, from Malaysia, said she carried out a thorough cleaning of her house before the Chinese New Year.
“The cleaning is called ‘sweeping the dust’ and represents a wish to put away old things, bid farewell to the old year and welcome the New Year.”
Meanwhile at Wantirna, around 40 aged care residents, staff and volunteers from all cultural backgrounds celebrated the Year of the Monkey with afternoon tea in the Memory Support Unit.
“Special food was celebrated with jasmine tea and Al from our Corpus Christi residence played his piano accordion to entertain our residents,” said Wantirna Lifestyle Assistant Sandra Davey.