Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! (Happy New Year!)

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February 10, 2013 by lucieromarin

It’s Chinese New Year, which means red lanterns bobbing in the trees outside our chapel, and drawling Australian voices saying “Gong xi fa cai!” to each other with really, really bad accents. It’s also the one day of the year in which the Chinese members of our community cannot stick around after Mass to help with the barbecue, because they’ve got banquets to get to, so the non-Chinese, after eating their sausage sandwiches, must go in search of dumplings by themselves.

I suppose it’s too much to hope that we’ll ever see a Dragon Dance at a Latin Mass chapel. One year, the elderly gentleman stringing up the lanterns had a passer-by fire at him a disapproving, “They’re pagan!” He retorted, “They’re not pagan! They’re lanterns!”

I have a feeling that in some minds, all non-European Catholics are permanently tainted with paganism; I know a Singaporean priest who had a American trad seminarian assure him that he could never be fully Christian, because he was not European. (Which is funny, because, like, Americans aren’t actually European either.) So, while they’d not actually tell Chinese Catholics to stop celebrating Chinese New Year, they’d remain wary of participating in any festivities themselves. And it is true that the question of where respect-for-another-culture ends and idolatry begins is pretty tricky. I’m certain, though, that eating dumplings is very respectful, and the more we eat them, the more respect we give.

Well, I’m really turning my thoughts to a post – or posts – on bullying, but while those thoughts remain nebulous, I thought I’d share the image of something good – in this case, it’s the image of a kind old man hanging red lanterns from a tree, just because they make people happy.

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