READING ESL: oh my goat!
Edmund Lee, a writer at theantdaily, remembers a funny meeting with Uncle Chong, a likeable story-teller from a local coffee shop, and the story he had to tell about the recent Chinese New Year celebrations for the year of the goat.
A vocabulary list for some of the less common words used in the original story and a link to the original article in theantdaily are provided below this easy English version.
Oh My Goat!
Uncle Chong told everyone how he and his wife had a misunderstanding during the spring clean that Chinese families carry out before the arrival of the New Year. Uncle Chong’s wife was angry with him for not cutting the grass around their house during the big clean-up. Other people in the coffee shop said that his wife was right and he should have cut the grass to make everything neat for the New Year celebrations, but Uncle Chong said that his wife – and everyone in the coffee shop – was wrong, because goats eat grass and the New Year was welcoming the Year of the Goat!
Many Chinese families will also decorate the walls and doors of their homes with large Chinese characters for words like “luck”, “happiness” and “wealth”. If ‘lucky words’ can attract positive energy, why shouldn’t new traditions like not cutting the grass also attract good luck – especially in the year ruled by the ‘goat’?
These practices for welcoming the New Year may be religious in origin, but they are widely practised by many Chinese people as a part of the customs and traditions handed down from generation to generation.
Among these traditions is the custom of hanging large paper pineapples to represent luck and fortune, because the words for ‘luck’ and ‘fortune’ sound like the Hokkien word for ‘pineapple’ (Hokkien is a Chinese language widely spoken across South East Asia). Other customs include placing leafy green citrus fruits (pomelo) around the house to represent family unity, and displaying sticky sweet cakes to please the Kitchen God in order to ensure a good report to the higher heavenly authorities.
Strangely, the ants seem to avoid these sweet cakes left out for the Kitchen God, but that may be more to do with the ants disliking the additives and preservatives rather than respecting the traditions!
These New Year traditions are not the only things that different families and communities do to celebrate Chinese New Year, but as with other community celebrations they carry a common message of happiness, celebration and hope for a better year – and a better future.
And don’t forget, the monkey is waiting to make his entrance when the goat year comes to an end, and the Chinese community will go bananas and welcome the monkey year in an equally festive and colourful way!
Link to the original article by Edmund Lee at theantdaily
Vocabulary list for less common English words used in the original article:
ENCOUNTER (n) meeting
AMUSING (adj) funny or entertaining
KOPITIAM (n) common word for coffee shop in S. E Asia (from Hokkien language)
SPRING CLEANING (expression) a major clean up, usually at home and usually in spring
CANDIDLY (adj) openly, honestly and without keeping secrets
NAGGED (v) to nag someone about something is to keep asking them or reminding them to do something
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (expression) This is the title of a play by Shakespeare, it is often used to describe a lot of fuss and preparation about something that is not very important
REMARKED (v) said
SURROUNDINGS (n) the nearby area
NEAT AND TIDY (expression) clean and well looked after
TRIUMPHANTLY (adj) describing the action of a winner
MURMURED (v) said quietly
DUMBFOUNDED (v) lost for words, too surprised to speak
AFFIXED (v) attached
AUSPICIOUS (adj) lucky
CALLIGRAPHIC (adj) beautifully hand written
PROMINENTLY (adj) put where it is easily seen
DENOTING (v) meaning
ABUNDANCE (n) plentiful amount
FORTUNE (n) either ‘wealth’ or ‘luck’
PROSPERITY (n) wealth
POSITIVE VIBES (n) a positive reaction, good feelings
HOUSE COMPOUND (n) the area of a house, including the yard that is protected by a wall around it
USHER IN (v) bring in
GALLOPED (v) ran – particularly horses
HOKKIEN (n) Chinese language widely used in S. E. Asia
PINYIN (n) writing system used to Romanise Chinese words
POMELO (n) a large citrus fruit
SIGNIFY (v) to represent a particular meaning
SUPERSTITIOUS (adj) believing that certain things or actions will bring good or bad luck
ENTICING (adj) attractive and welcoming
ADDITIVES AND PRESERVATIVES (expression) chemicals (usually) that are put into food stuffs to make them stay fresher for longer
EXHAUSTIVE (adj) complete
ENTRENCHED (v) strongly stuck in place
ITCHING TO DO SOMETHING (expression) eager to do something
GOING BANANAS (expression) going crazy or going mad