Ancestor veneration

When I was a kid, ancestor veneration meant treats…candies, cookies, pastries…choice treats.

On special occasions, as a dutiful Hakka Chinese woman, my mother honoured our ancestors with offerings of cooked meats—chicken, pork and fish, fruits and the above-mentioned treats. As far as I was concerned, the tradition was a good excuse for stuffing our faces. The hardest part was resisting the goodies during the days leading up to the appointed date. They looked too irresistible to stay in the deep recesses of my mother’s hiding places. We weren’t allowed to eat them until the ancestors had been properly appeased.

Now that was a contentious point for an outspoken uncle who often said that if the ancestors actually ate the food, this tradition would probably stop. My mother’s response to her brother was if such a thing were to happen, it would reinforce her belief. What is this belief anyway? In my youth I was pretty nebulous about ancestor veneration—just another incense / candle burning ceremony. It wasn’t until it became my turn to carry on the tradition that I started to dig a little deeper inside me to see how I actually felt about it.

Earlier this week, we engaged in some ceremonial veneration acts of our own for my husband’s deceased parents. The occasion—our first granddaughter’s birth a couple of months ago. I tried to explain to our non-Chinese daughter-in-law the significance of the ceremony from my point of view. I believe that the tradition is meant to remind us of our roots, and to help keep the memories of our loved ones alive. For me that’s enough reason to continue the ritual.

Roman Holiday

I have been remiss. I’ve neglected my blog for a month, but I have a good reason…yeah, yeah, there is no excuse if I’ve committed to blog regularly. Regardless, I’m going to blame Rome and Navigator of the Seas for stealing my interest.

One week in Rome was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. We (hubby and I) walked until every bone protested. For anyone who’s been to Rome, you’d know that you can’t explore those ancient wonders without making your legs work. The spectacular piazzas, the majestic Trevi Fountain and the imposing Pantheon can only be reached if you’re willing to walk the cobblestone paths. And how about that Piazza Navona, my favourite piazza in Rome? After covering so many sights, and oh…did I mention we saw the Pope at the Vatican City…we actually welcomed the end of the trip. Wait, that wasn’t really the end, we embarked on a cruise for a much more leisurely vacation.

Our second week was much more sedate than our first…so sedate we used the ship’s gym at least four times. There were sixteen other cruisers in our group who made this part of our holiday quite memorable. Their energy and appetite for shopping were infectious – next time I should leave the plastic cards at home. No matter, I’ll get good use of my purchases and we left knowing that we helped the European economy of Sicily, Turkey and Greece (they really need the help).

I’m home barely a week, but you wouldn’t guess that if you could see where my fingers are taking me on the world wide web…planning our next vacation already.