What’s replacing our festive food practices
By Joanna Goh - Thursday, May 29, 2014
Question – Do you know what these are for. Each item displayed on the plate each has its own significant meaning.The charcoal and oranges symbolizes a good fortune 大吉大利 and great fortune in harmony. Whereas the chopsticks are to bless the couple with kids, having both a boy and girl after marriage. The list goes on and as interesting as wedding preparations are, we are talking about a unique heritage that’s fast disappearing with time. And these are festive food cultures that we once inherited from far away lands which we call our own too. .
In today’s cultural climate, even Mrs K. W Chong, senior accountant in her mid 50s find such practices and following traditions old school. She questions: “Who does that nowadays?”.
Below are some examples of a fading yet colourful festival culinary culture we are losing a grip on…
In a baby shower, the Chinese would celebrate by giving cakes, red eggs and deliver them personally to family and friends. The red eggs symbolizes birth and new beginnings whereas ang ku kueh symbolizes good luck as it’s shaped like a turtle. As this practice is slowly forgotten by society, Bengawan Solo thrives to uphold these traditions. For Business Development Director, Henry Liew firmly stands for the belief that we can’t simply adopt western culture, and neglect our own. Their idea of using vouchers to redeem baby shower cakes made it convenient for customers and it became habit of a new tradition. Sadly, folks now relate baby showers to vouchers and what it can materially do, more than how much meaning that cake or kueh can represent by way of thought, care and culture.
In Malay wedding traditions, bunga telur (hard boiled eggs) and pulut kuning(yellow glutinous rice) would be served. The eggs symbolised fertility and pulut kuning symbolises the couple’s status as “king and queen” for the day. Such festive food are finds these days in Singapore and only a handful of people still make it for weddings. Times have changed and now its- cupcakes, chocolates and sweets.
The Laddu, a ball shaped bread with flour and sugar is an auspicious food item given only on “good” occasions such asfestivals and weddings of the South Indians folks. It represents a small token of “good blessing”. It’s a practice that is less common of late and it’s simply eaten a dessert these days.
Do we need to lose all these food practices that spell who we are? At this rate of cultural decline, it’s regretful we are heading into a vast cultural desert. If you don’t stand proud for your culture, your heritage might just reduced to how fancy a box that cash voucher came in…