READING ESL: oh my goat!

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

Read the original article HERE

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

For more easy reading English stories click HERE

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