The Little Drummer Boy goes Tong Tong Chiang

Chinese New Year songs played in the malls and supermarkets make you wish Christmas was still around.

They’ve moved CNY stuff into the shops so quickly that some people are a bit confused. Mysterious boxes turn up and no one knows what they are:

Tong tong chiang
Near Whampoa Market
At Cold Storage Cluny Court
At Cold Storage Cluny Court

Ten ten ten ten ten ten…


While waiting at the Ob-Gyn’s office, I spied a headline in our Straits Times – “Japan acts to raise fluency in English” – and was reminded of a YouTube video we saw ages ago of a Japanese game show game where participants were smacked (on their bottoms, no less) whenever they lost control and laughed at a clip of a man trying to read in English. The best part is when he tries to count to a hundred in English.

He gets to 19 with few problems.

A good start

Toshikishi SobaFor New Year’s this year we decided that it would be nice to observe a little family tradition. From Naomi’s side of the family, that is. From Naomi’s father’s side of the family, that is. Mixed marriages are so much fun.

We decided to do this traditional New Year’s Eve and Day thing so that when our baby is born, we’ll be able to present to him a smorgasbord of traditions from all sides of our families, with smorgasbord alluding to the food bit of tradition, not the Swedish bit, because we don’t have any Swedish in our blood except for the time I got a couple of splinters in my hand from assembling an Ikea armchair.

On New Year’s Eve, it is traditional to eat toshikoshi soba and watch a music variety show on NHK, but we caught only a bit of it at home before going over to Naomi’s mum’s and she doesn’t have NHK on cable, so we missed the bulk of it. Toshikoshi soba symbolizes longevity, so we’re good. I don’t know what the tv show symbolizes so I don’t know what we’ve missed.

Naomi prepared the soba with as many ice cubes as the fridge could make – which wasn’t enough – because we decided on cold soba instead of hot, and we managed to get the noodles down our throats before the clock struck twelve.

New Year's Day BreakfastDifferent families in different regions observe these customs differently – and we opted for a 7am start on New Year’s Day for the consuming of ozoni, a soup with really yummy toasted mochi.

We’re told that what you do on New Year’s sets the tone for the rest of the year. I went to work right after a big bowl of ozoni, and I’ll be satisfied if that means I’ll be having work and food all year.

Many families celebrate New Year’s over three days, so there’s still a bit of time to go eat and be happy. Meantime, Naomi and I wish you a very happy oshogatsu.

New Year's Day Breakfast