Year of the Tiger Spring Festival: Chinese australians use “lunar New Year’s Eve dinner” to ease the missing of their Chinese relatives

For many people, The Lunar New Year is the most important festival of the year and a time for family reunion.However, I haven’t been able to sit down with my family for a New Year’s Eve dinner since 2019.I currently live in Ballarat, a “gold rush town” in central west Victoria, while my parents and the rest of my family are in Inner Mongolia, China, where I was born and raised.This Year, however, I decided not to let the epidemic interfere with the two most important things for the day: reunion and good food.So tonight, on New Year’s Eve, I want to have a “lunar New Year’s Eve dinner” with my family in China.I actually tried this idea with my family last week on New Year’s Eve (January 25).I made a few dishes: stir-fried pork, tofu with scallions and “Di SAN xian” (a northern dish made with potatoes, green peppers and eggplant).However, this is nothing compared to the large table of delicacies prepared by the family back home.Over dinner, I couldn’t help telling my family how much I missed them.I told them that I hope the outbreak will end soon and we can meet soon.As the saying goes, “I miss my family more on every festive day”. Although greeting each other across the screen and having dinner together is not the best way to celebrate The Spring Festival, it can alleviate my homesickness to some extent on such a special day.Although I really want to go back home to reunite with my family, in the past two years, Australia has closed its borders and I still hold an Australian work visa. I don’t know when I can return to Australia if I come back.They may be quarantined for at least 21 days after they return, and flights between Australia and China have been cut off, making it hard to get a ticket.All of which makes the journey home difficult and expensive.Currently, a round-trip air ticket from Australia to China costs 6,000 to 8,000 Australian dollars, while the cost of quarantine in China is almost 2,100 Australian dollars.At present, many Chinese in Australia are facing such a dilemma, and there are many people like me who choose to welcome the Year of the Tiger with their families through the Internet.For Hannah Liu, who also lives in Ballarat, this will be the third time her family has celebrated Chinese New Year online.”Before the epidemic, for example, grandparents were there one year, and grandparents were there the other year, so every year there were elderly people with the children,” Liu said.”The old people would make a lot of delicious food, and then we would have friends over.”Ms. Liu’s two sons, Louis and Lance, dress in traditional costumes and pay New Year’s greetings to their grandparents in Chinese.And grandparents give “red envelopes” filled with lucky money to their two grandchildren.However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these unique customs of Chinese New Year have to be solved through video calls.”We use wechat red envelopes inside our phones,” Ms. Liu said.”Children will say, ‘Gong Xi Fa CAI, give me the red envelopes!’and then my grandparents would use their mobile phones to send small red packets.””They will be very happy to count [the red envelopes].”Liu said the children’s grandparents miss their grandson very much.”The elderly miss their children very much. Before the epidemic, they used to come here often, but now they miss their children when they can’t see them for a year or two and they grow up so fast,” Liu said.”The Spring Festival is a family reunion and the beginning of a New Year, or in Chinese, to bid farewell to the old and usher in the new.”It means to forget all the bad things and unhappy things and start the New Year in a very full state.”

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