Monday, July 18, 2005

Grandma's 80th Birthday Celebration - A Morning of Tea & Thanksgiving Ceremony

Grandma 80th Birthday - Birthday Gift Pack
♥ Birthday Gift Pack
The morning of Grandma's 80th birthday celebration went past in a breeze with us "kids" being shovelled aside and given some labour-intensive tasks. Apart from running around to do errands, we had also been waitresses serving up sou tao (literally longevity peach, a Chinese birthday bun in the shape of peach) and ang koo kueh (literally red turtle cake, a type of Chinese delicacy in the form of turtle with a red sticky skin).

We have had quite a lot of guests arriving to zhu sou ie. to wish Granny a happy birthday. Each guest was given a pink gift pack, inside which contains a red (an auspicious colour) Chinese bowl, a red Chinese spoon and a pair of red chopstick. The gift was given as a sign of luck and prosperity. It was also as a symbol that Granny's longevity might pass on to the guest so the guest can be long life too.

♥ tabeshimashita @ pinkcocoa's brunei home on 17 July 2005
Grandma 80th Birthday - Red Birthday Eggs
♥ Endless trays of red birthday eggs
Coming from a tradition Chinese-Cantonese family, Granny's birthday was celebrated in a very traditional matter with the morning dedicated to a long and slightly complicated tea ceremony as well as thanksgiving ceremony where we gave thanks to god and goddess for granting granny such long life.

The night before the big day, the women spent long hours in the kitchen boiling eggs and dipping them in red dye to make red birthday eggs, a tradition of Chinese culture to have red eggs on birthday. Since we had a large number of guests visiting, we had to dye tray after tray of eggs!

Grandma 80th Birthday - Longevity Peaches
♥ Longevity Peaches
On the table of woship to Goddess KuanYin was a giant longevity bun surrounded by 9 small longevity buns. The nine tiny buns symbolised the chinese term jiu jiu chang sheng, literary "nine nine long life", where the nine rhymes with "long' (as in a long time). Thus this particular longevity bun(s) symbolises my granny's long life.

Grandma 80th Birthday - Two Different Types of Ang Koo Kueh
On the same table was also a plate of two different types of Chinese festivity kueh: the dark pink being the tradition ang koo kueh that comes in the shape of turtle; and the lighter colour one in the shape of a peach. Both peach and turtle are seen as lucky symbols of longevity in Chinese culture.

Of course beside the buns and kueh, there was also the more commonly seen whole boiled chicken and plates of fresh fruits.

Grandma 80th Birthday - Crackling Piglet
♥ Crackling Piglet
While on the table of worship to tian shen (the God of Heaven) was one whole crackling piglet! It does look scrumptious, doesn't it? I still haven't had the chance of trying this one out yet but I can already imagine the crispy skin crackling in my mouth!

Grandma 80th Birthday - Longevity Peach and Ang Koo Kueh
♥ Longevity Peach and Ang Koo Kueh
There were also longevity buns and ang koo kueh arranged in a different matter.

Grandma 80th Birthday - Red Birthday Eggs and Savoury Peach Kueh
♥ Red Birthday Eggs and Savoury Peach Kueh
Oh yes, I almost forgot about the red birthday eggs!

Grandma 80th Birthday - Kuching Wife Biscuit
♥ Kuching Wife Biscuit
As waitresses, we kids ran around offering longevity buns and these lo po beng (literary wife biscuit, a type of chinese flaky pastry with a sweet filling) that an aunt brought all the way from Kuching!

We have been so very busy all morning that I didn't get the chance to try out these buns and kueh until later in the afternoon. And dear oh dear, most guests had doggybagged all these buns and kuehs home that we hardly had any left after the busy morning. The longevity buns proved to be the most popular with the ang koo kueh with a close finish. In fact there wasn't any longevity buns left when all the guests had left. We were utterly disappointed at not being able to try the buns. But don't worry, I had save one of each of these buns and kuehs before they ran out and tell me, you are all ready for some cross-sectinal pictures of these kueh in my next post! :-)