Our Traditions. Dead, Dying or Still holding on?

In our hyper-connected 24/7 world nowadays, society treads on, progress endures with a pace that is relentless no matter the cost or losses.

From very young, one trait I realised about the Chinese culture is the sheer multitude of festivals and traditions available if one decides to be pious. I still recall my late grandfather’s insistence to make offerings to the Deities / Spirits every 1st , 15th and last day of each Lunar month. Start to include all the other key festivals like Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn, Qing Ming Festival, Winter Solstice and on, one can easily find one praying to a festival more than once a per month.

Offerings for the 7th day of the Lunar New Year. (人日) Few nowadays even know that Lunar New year celebrations span 15 days because it starts with the new moon and ends with the full moon, with a meaning attached to each and every day.

And remember, this is just one race, and in multi-racial Singapore, we also do honor the festivals of the Malay, Indian, Christian and other minor cultures.

But as we age, and my grandparent’s generation dwindle in numbers, so has the respect and faith followed suit in upholding these traditions.

And not forgetting of course, the norm of how now everyone seems to be always busy at something – whether meaningful or frivolous. 

As an adult now, do I also realise that festivals and traditions do in their own ways,  allow us the platform to appreciate, share, bond and also to celebrate as a family unit.

For example as a kid I never understood why do we go through the suffering and time to knead these little rounded rice-flour balls named tang-yuan (汤圆) for the Winter Solstice festival (one of the most important festivals followed by East Asians). Read more about the festival here.  I mean, we could have just bought them off supermarket shelves instead, all ready and with flavouring included and not spent the whole morning on just kneading them.

Winter Solstice
Fujifilm X-T2, XF35mm F1.4

Until I realised this is one activity that brings the family together, to create one item to be shared by the whole family later, all in the name of tradition. Where opportunities are also present for everyone to converse, communicate and appreciate.

X-T2, XF35mm F1.4

Where instead of ‘bonding‘ by sitting down together but everyone’s looking at their devices, everyone now has to sit down and focus on getting the job done. (or if you don’t care about getting sticky stuff on your spanking new iPhone)

X-T2, XF35mm F1.4

and where children actually also learn through meaningful play. Where is it also fine to make a mess of things. Where adults prepare the materials, kids do the kneading and adults do the cooking – everyone contributing their parts.

X-T2, XF35mm F1.4

where families can be proud of creating together a product to be shared by all.

Winter Solstice
X-T2, XF35mm F1.4

I guess it is inevitable that in my generation handing over to the next, I will see the changing of traditions to accommodate 24/7 lifestyles, and probably should just be glad that some traditions though diluted, still remain and hopefully endure the test of time.

But I will still try my very best to endure, and hope for my children to know that they did come from a certain culture, with its beautiful practices.

Thank you for reading.


Keith Father, Teacher and Life Photographer. Lives a life of positivism & seeks to photograph Life & his 2 toddlers Kei & Lynn.