Quiet ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai’ Celebrations But Yet Joy & Love

LABUAN: Curfews, quarantines and border closings complicated Chinese New Year celebrations for countless people across the country, but ingenuity, determination and imagination helped keep the day special for many.

This year’s celebration is different from years past and to keep as many of us as possible safe from COVID-19 infections, all events and gatherings are suspended until the Movement Control Order (MCO) is lifted.

This includes gatherings of any size at our homes, even in our backyards or outside, with anyone other than our ‘core bubble’, defined as our immediate household for those of us who live with others.

A 40-year-old local entrepreneur Alex Lee said it has been a sombre and guarded atmosphere, but the occasion goes on, albeit in a more muted manner, adding that to still feel the holiday spirit he had hung a big lantern on his doorway.

He said the celebration should not be dampened by the pandemic but continue to spread more hope, peace, joy and love.

“This year’s will only be a simple family celebration, not the usual big clan gathering we normally have during this time of year.

“Our yearly tradition with my parents in Kudat, Sabah, will not be materialised this year…we do not have the traditional reunion dinner with ‘Yee Sang’, I just contacted my parents via video chatting, we joined them virtually, but it is not same of not being there,” he said.

Lee said  with a focus on the pandemic virus, he and his family are preoccupied with guidelines on how to celebrate Gong Xi Fa Cai this year with only members of the family who are living in the same household, to continue wearing masks, observe social distancing, or to wash hands frequently. 

“We are being discouraged from visiting one another for our mutual protection and safety.  The usual celebration glee and merriment that we have been accustomed to is not possible this year,” he said. 

Many of those in the duty-free-island here were also not be able to return to their hometown in the Sabah mainland as the ban on interstate still ongoing.