The second day of the New Year is when married daughters return to their birth family’s home and spend time there. We learned of this tradition only after we got married, because previously, both Naomi’s and my family were always pretty sketchy and inconsistent with customs. We still can’t remember for sure how many oranges we’re supposed to bring when visiting, and how many we’re supposed to leave a house with.
I suspect mandarin orange farmers were the ones who came up with the give 4 take 2 back custom, cos if you did the math and did what accountants call a “contra”, a give 2 take 2 back custom would kill the orange growers’ orange rice bowl.
Sometimes we get saboed by our families, when they suddenly come up with customs we’ve never previously observed. I remember vaguely when we were in secondary school, and my parents came home with this new fangled grated carrot and radish salad with crackers and slivers of raw fish and declared we had to eat that for good luck after tossing the salad everywhere on the table.
Sometimes we argue over what customs are what, and actually resort to googling or wikipeding what to wear and what to do so we don’t offend whatever gods it is that our families have subscribed to for the New Year.
This year’s googling/wikipeding taught me that some Chinese also believe that the 2nd day of the New Year is also the birthday of all dogs. Apparently it is when these same Chinese treat dogs extra kindly, feed them well, and try not to eat them.
Also, I found out why firecrackers were banned in Singapore – in 1970, 6 people were killed and 68 injured, leading to a partial ban. In 1972, a total ban was implemented when 2 more people were killed by explosions and 2 policemen were attacked when trying to prevent people setting off crackers.
The ban has been in place with the exception of publicly sanctioned setting off of crackers. Apparently, pro-private-firecrackers’ claim that “Firecrackers Don’t Kill People. People Kill People” fell on deaf ears.