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Lai see Etiquette

  1. #9
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    Yes, i remember you Sarah.(i've been in 2 times again since! YIKES!) i see so many mixed couples but usually the other way round, chinese women, white men.

    what's funny with my hubby is that i'm usually the one wanting to try to follow chinese traditions. when we got married, i spent hours and hours researching on the internet all of the customs. i then had to explain TO HIM what they were and what they signified! his family has never really maintained the traditions. hubby said that his mum used to pray at the temples but found it didn't work so quit! his brother and his wife are Jehovah's Witnesses... so they don't follow ANY traditions.

    IT seems up to us to keep them alive in his family. My hubby and his immediate family are not very close to the cousins etc. My MIL is an indiginous villager and there have been too many arguments over land and $, so she rarely talks to most of her family.(she's the only girl and only gets along with the youngest brother, who is still a bachelor at 60 years old.)

  2. #10
    LLL_Sarah is offline Registered User
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    I think family traditions are important. I don’t think it really matters if they are old cultural ones or ones that you make up for your own family to do. It is the doing and being together as a family that is the important bit.

    When I was first married my mother-in-law misunderstood my Cantonese (or maybe I just said the wrong thing!) and she went away with the idea that in England families got together on Boxing Day to celebrate rather than Christmas Day. So my husband’s family came to visit us on Boxing Day and have done every Christmas since. This party has turned in to a huge family tradition that everyone looks forward to. I mix traditional English Christmas food with Chinese winter food and we all eat loads and have a special visitor for the children. Even this has turned in to its own tradition as each year someone different dresses up as Father Christmas.

    I’ve even infiltrated the Chinese festivals with my silly ideas. Early in my marriage my husband taught me to make the traditional “law bat go” (white radish cake). So now each year I make as many “gos” as I can. My favourites are pumpkin go and taro go. But we make dan go (cake), shut go (ice-cream) and chocolate go (better known as brownies).

    I’ve always had the idea that the more festivals the better so our family celebrates all the English ones and all the Chinese ones. And if someone comes to visit we’ll very happily celebrate their festivals too.

    Before I came to live in Hong Kong I read a couple of books about Hong Kong history. I was amazed that I knew so much more local history than the people I met here. I found out that local Hong Kong history wasn’t on the syllabus when most of my Hong Kong friends were at school. So they learnt more about English and European history than Hong Kong history. Maybe that is one of the reasons that so many of the old buildings have been knocked down.

    When my mother-in-law was alive she visited a temple in Lantau on the third day of Chinese New Year. She would say enough prayers that day for the whole year. I rather liked the way that the religion she practiced was so accommodating to allow this.

    Best wishes,
    SARAH
    Last edited by LLL_Sarah; 12-03-2006 at 12:51 AM.

  3. #11
    capital is offline Banned
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    My huisband is chinese and grew up in Hong Kong, his parents both came from southern China in I think the 1960's. I am canadian and we live in Canada. We will be spending the new year in Hiong Kong this year. The family dynamics are very complicated as my father in law is no longer with my mother in law (who was the second wife but my husband didn't know any of that until he was about 10 or so), and my husband actually has an older brother that he has absolutely nothing to do with as he is the son of the (now deceased) first wife, and he grew up in China but lives in Hong Kong. My mother in law, as far as we know is not in any contact with any of her own siblings, but we are not sure why. My husband is not even sure how many aunts and uncles he has as his paretns are so secretive about everything, and he feels like he should not ask. We only learn of thing when someone happens to mention something.
    This is so different from my own family background where both sides of my family take great pride in trying to figure out all they can about people going back generations. Right now in fact, my parents are in England on big geneology search, looking up long lost relatives.

    I am really trying to ensure we are keeping up chinese traditions, and not just the english ones, but of course it is harder here. For example. My husband is the only one in his family in Canada, so we have no one to visit at chinese new year. I am thinking that I would like to start a tradition next year of having a Childrens chinese new year party every year for my boys and litlte friends. I think it is great to let traditions evolve as they do. I agree, it is not what the traditions is that is important, but the fact that you have them.

    Would you mind to share some of the little rhymes you know? My husband too, seems to not know about a lot of the little kid type of things. He only knows 2 chinese nursery rhymes! Where as I know 100's of english ones. I guess being male he probably never really thought to remember things like that.

    In the city I live having mixed race couples is quite common. In the fisrt moms group Ijoined with baby# 1, there were 5 mixed race babies, out of 13 moms, and in the one I am in with baby#2 there are 3, out of 12. That was one thing that really suprised me about Hong Kong. I guess I expected that since it is a MUCH larger city than where I live, there would be lots of people from all over the world, all different races, but there really isn't. Hong Kong definatley has more Chinese people, than Edmonton has white people. When I go to the mall here, I will see LOTS of people from everywhere imaginable. It is quite a lot more ethnically diverse.

  4. #12
    carang's Avatar
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    ha! must be cold in edmonton now...i sympathise...i'm originally from saskatoon!

  5. #13
    lynn cheung is offline Registered User
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    Sorry, I don't mean too confuse you.
    I asked my husband about the lai see etiquette and he said that different families sometimes had different rules about it, because they came from different parts of China.

    The one that Sarah mention is usually used in Taiwan.

    My husband said that for some in Hong Kong the rules were:
    - people who are not married;
    usually younger, but some give to older people (not married) but this is by tradition only.
    once the younger generations get married, we don't give to them anymore (we give to their children, not married)
    - some give to their parents

    To play it safe, just follow husband's tradition.
    My parents-in-law told my husband about their tradition, then we just follow it.

    Sorry again, I don't know much about this subject either.

  6. #14
    LLL_Sarah is offline Registered User
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    Having read Lynn’s reply I wish to clarify what I wrote earlier.

    In my family (husband is a Hong Kong man) there is a difference between the categories of who you give lai see to depending whether they are in your family or out of it.

    If giving to relatives then as I wrote earlier I'd give to all in the younger generation, irrespective of whether they are married or not.

    If they are not in the family then I'd only give to the unmarried ones.

    But I agree with Lynn when she says follow what your mother-in-law tells you to do. You can never go wrong if you do that!

    My husband is away in the USA at the moment but when he returns I’ll get him to list out the Chinese New Year sayings.

    Best wishes,
    SARAH

  7. #15
    capital is offline Banned
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    I didn't realize you should give people in service red pockets. Last year I gave them to my day home provider's daughter, but I guess I should have also given them to my provider herself. (they are a chinese family) How much do you usually give? Is it a percentage of the monthly wage, or an extra month? I know it is different as in hong kong most people have live in Nanny's. My day home provider has, in addition to my 2 children, another 2 children she looks after, so she had 4 children in care, and I pay her through an agency. As it is her home, she is the only provider, so not like a day care where there would be many providers your child sees.

  8. #16
    carang's Avatar
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    just a $20 or a $50 would be greatly appreciated, i'm sure...i'm talking cad $$$...if you think that she does exceptional work with your kids andyou can afford it, then $100....DO NOT give $40 (4 sounds like death in chinese)

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