Preparing for Chinese New Year at the Hwang’s

Longtime friends of my aunt and uncle, the Wang’s were finishing up some last minute Chinese New Year preparations when my cousin and I paid a visit to them last night, to visit this little guy:

Colin Chen, Mr. Hwang’s grandson. He’s going to be very handsome. I can tell.

The Hwangs are a very traditional Taiwanese family and have an altar room in their house. In addition to weekly worship, Chinese New Year means a special offerings of fruits, nuts, and candies, all placed upon the altar. Mr. Hwang explained that they worship ancestors on the left and Guang Gong (關公), a Daoist deity, on the right.

On the front table there is a “wooden fish” on the left – a percussion instrument carved from one piece of wood, engraved with fishes. When struck with the muted baton next to it, it makes a crisp hollow sound which helps Buddhist and Daoist worshipers keep the rhythm of their prayers. On the right is a bronze bell. When struck, its resonance is meant to summon the spirits.

Mr. and Mrs. Hwang prepare goods on red plates to place upon the altar for offering. On the wall are portraits of Mr. Hwang’s deceased ancestors. From left: his older brother, who passed away at the age of twenty; Mr. Hwang’s mother, his father, and his grandfather. I forgot to ask who the bust is.

A close up of the wooden fish. No one in my family can decipher the second word (the first means “King”). I should have asked the Hwangs.

Guang Gong.

Coiled incense. 
Mr. Hwang and his spring posters: “fortune” on the left, and “spring” on the right. Traditionally, these are hung upside down on the front doors to signify the arrival of both. 
The beautiful red envelope Mrs. Hwang gave me. 
Now it’s time to prepare for our family’s Chinese New Year dinner. But I’ll leave you with this because everyone knows, babies bring good luck:

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