Chneh Meh Kay

(Version in Hokkien)

Chneh Meh Kay

Tok Tiok Tharng

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(Version in English)

A blind chicken

Pecks a worm!

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About this saying:~

This phrase/saying is commonly used to describe how luck could strike undeserving people the same way a chicken , though blind, could peck worms.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

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Ang Pow Giving

On the first day of Chinese New Year as Confucianist practice dictates, the entire household of an extended family would tidy themselves up, all nicely coiffured before presenting themselves to the head of the household, (generally the matriarch) to receive special blessings and ang pows (red colored packets containing money symbolizing good luck, prosperity, great health and joy). As receiving ang pows is hierarchical, so it is with the givers, each taking turns distributing whilst juniors kow tow and wish ‘Keong Hee Huat Chye’ as a mark of respect to the givers. In our family we went a step further by serving tea to the elders. It is also customary that once a child got married, they are obligated to give ang pows to their parents. The unmarried are exempted from ang pow giving because to the Chinese, they are still rated a child. Thus, any family members can receive ang pows for as long as they remained single. In our Hokkien tradition, only the womenfolk gives away ang pows. Reason is that the menfolk are supposedly the breadwinners of the family whilst the womenfolk are in charge of household affairs.

This is my extended family.

1st pic- my grandma Gek Kee, receiving blessings from my great grandma, matriarch Saw Kit, at Boon Siew Mansion. Generally as a senior in the family herself, my grandma is no longer entitled to ang pows but I guess that also depends on the generosity of individuals and the wealth of each family.. Matriarch Saw Kit’s life sized bronze statue still graces the Home of the Infirmary, Penang.

2nd pic- Aunt Guat Eng, Aunt Gim Ean (deceased), Aunt Guat Hong, Aunt Loh Ean, Uncle Kah Poh (deceased), unidentified Aunt and my mom (deceased). Aunt Guat Hong and 2nd Tniau Seng Leong kow towed.

3rd pic- Tiny tots group pic with matriarch. Kah Heng (deceased), Kah Bee, and Kah Kheng (deceased).

An extended family has added advantages except for privacy and at least three generations of one household lives and stays together. That was the in -thing of that period for well to do family’s with big houses.

Images copyrighted. Circa 50s.

Chiak Thor Tau, Chiak Lau Lau

“Chiak Thor tau,
Chiak Lau Lau.”
Is a Hokkien Rhyme frequently uttered during Chinese New Year. Translated to mean “Eating groundnuts, ensures longevity.”, it became customary to serve groundnuts during Chinese New Year because of this belief in the rhyme but Groundnuts, as according to old wives tales, is the primary culprit towards the dwindling of our Chinese population because it suppresses the male libido. Perhaps. Since peanut butter is very much paired to Elvis, and his underperformance as stated in Pricilla’s memoir. Anyway it’s just a tale. Nothing serious.

Mai Khiam Kuay Ni

“Mai Khiam Kuay Ni” is a Hokkien saying uttered before Chinese New Year. Translated, it means “don’t defer your debts till the next year”. Though this has no real life connotation as most big companies does owe, it grew into a widespread belief somehow rooted into the community. But no doubt it has its goodness. It’s good practice not to be a lousy paymaster because everyone during the festive season needs cash to prepare for the yearly ritual and celebration hence the practice of giving bonuses a week before Chinese New Year. Just like problems that doesn’t get solved, it will slowly pile up into one big unsolvable package. Below is the image of God of Wealth a deity if placed in your home will ensure prosperity in your household.

Hneow Lor Chay

(Version in Hokkien)

Hneow Lor Chay

Kwee Chay

Mooi Chay

Chart Toh Chay.

(Version in English)

When there are many censers

Chances are they are used to repel evil

When there are many doors

Chances are they will beget robbers

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About this Proverb/Saying:~

This Hokkien Proverb/Saying is to teach people to be vigilant and look for early signs when buying a new home. In the homes of Buddhists, censers are used to hold litted joss sticks (intercessory prayer sticks) and it is usually placed right in front of the deity or god one believes in. If one encounters more censers than usual in a place or a home, their presence is to appeal for more divine power or help and what could be more devastating than the presence of evil in that place. In the second instance, it advises people not to create unnecessary access on walls for it will invite more robbers. (One must remember that in old China, houses do not have fences and homes are built right to the boundaries facing the road or narrow streets. So the more doors there are, it spells more trouble for the occupants.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These proverbs and sayings has always been a guide and lesson to the many who has never been to school so as to help them steer well in the river of  life and in a way, it seeks to retell their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

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Sin Jam Barn Ho Pang Sai

(Version in Hokkien)

Sin Jarm Barn

Ho Pang Sai

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(Version in English)

A new water closet

Makes one shit better!

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About this saying:~

This saying is used to describe how one is more attentive towards newer possessions then when they are older as seen from the uncanny habit of caring and being more attentive to their possessions when one buys a new motorbike, car, apartment or even ones new shoe or clothing.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

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Ho Hnia Ti

(Version in Hokkien)

Ho Hnia Ti

Phark Hor, Liak Ch’art

Si Chin Eh Hnia Ti

Mm Ho Eh Hnia Ti

Chiok Peh Bo Eh Part Tor

Lai Choot Si!

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(Version in English)

Good siblings

Fought the tigers, catches thieves

Are true blood siblings

Bad siblings

Merely borrow the mothers womb

To be born!

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About this saying:~

This saying describes the virtues of brotherhood. While the good ones will help each other in times of need, the bad ones has no concern for one another though they came from the same womb.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

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Char Bor Bo Ch’eng

(Version in Hokkien)

Char Bor Bo Ch’eng

Siang Ka Ong Lai

Thai Cho Nor Peng.

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(Version in English)

A flirtatious woman

Is like a pineapple

Split into two!

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About this rhyme/saying:~

This is a  rhyme/saying sought to tell the listener of some flirtatious women in the act of betrayal. In this instance a pineapple known for its sweet taste but sometimes bites our tongue is used to describe the relationship.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

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Ah Kong Bo Looi Ah Kong Oo Looi

(Version in Hokkien)

Ah Kong Bo Looi

Chang Aik Chap Tau Pun Ch’au

Knia Soon Pun Ow

Ah Kong Oo Looi

Chang Aik Bo Chit Air

Knia Soon Kooi Tua Air!

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(Version in English)

If your grandpa is poor

He would still be smelly even if he bathe ten times

And his grandchildren would also smell stale

But if your grandpa is rich

And he bathes not even close to a fifth of a second

His grandchildren would still surround him!

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About this rhyme/saying:~

This is a  rhyme/saying sought to tell the listener of the sad realities in life where money indeed could buy relations.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

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Puak Kiu

(Version in Hokkien)

Puak Kiu, Kiu Tiok Ai Liak

Puak Beh, Beh Tiok Ai Chiak

Puak Kor Phiok, Lang Tiok Ai Oo Giak.

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(Version in English)

In football betting, one must place stakes

In horse betting, the horse needs to eat

In buying shares, one must have sufficient capital.

Is out wandering !

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About this rhyme/saying:~

This rhyme/saying emphasizes the need of capital in all kinds of investment.

The author/owner has compiled for record, a collection of early Hokkien sayings, proverbs, rhymes and ditties to capture the essence and spirit of his hoi polloi, a community originating from the southern province of Fujian, China where individuals climbed aboard bum boats, crossing the South China Sea to settle in faraway lands to escape the brewing civil unrest and a way out from hardship carrying along with them in their journey, nothing except their trademark ponytails and their beliefs, very much rooted in Confucianism. These ditties retell their story and their lifestyle way back then so that the younger generation can gain an insight and foothold to their origin..

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