Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Grandpa's 71st birthday cake

This was a very formal event. The year was 1967. Here Grandpa aka Ah Kung was wearing the formal attire of a royal official of the Ming Dynasty. It was a black silk top. Underneath, he wore a loose fitting version of the modern day sexy Cheong Sum or Chi Piao. It was a black silk gown. Then he had a pair of pants. We were young and sniggered that Grand pa was wearing a woman's gown. Little did we know, until I grew up and watched Chinese TV.

Mum made his cake. It was a butter cake with royal icing. At that time, very few people had a western cake in Borneo. Mum had learned baking from the British wives of Dad's boss. An aunt brought some red Chinese paper cutting of auspicious words. Making it a perfect fusion of East and West. It was some sort of an omen. Five of the kids in the photo have chosen to live in Australia, New Zealand and England. The Chan Clan has spreaded far and wide across the ocean.

For breakfast, all of us were served with sweet long noodles. Yes, you read it right, the sweetness signifying a sweet life, and long noodles for long life to all who ate this noodles.

There was great feasting, and hundreds of guests were invited to a banquet lunch in a restaurant.

My dad told me that at the birthday of a very healthy and successful person, people like to come to these parties. Some even gate crash. They believe in taking away a bit of the luck of this birthday boy. They will take away uneaten food to share with their family at home.

Vice versa, if the birthday person was a sickly person, people will avoid going to the party. It is seen as taking home the bad luck of the sick person. They will try to give all sorts of excuse why they couldn't come to the dinner. These days, they even state, " Please no presents." People still won't come.


Ana said...

how fascinating, thank you for sharing these memories and traditions.

Paula Scott Molokai Girl Studio said...

What a wonderful story and photo to document it with!