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.

Lang Ean Tau

(Version in Hokkien)

Lang Ean Tau

Cheng Snar Oo Bak Thau

Lau Peh Oo Tiam Thau

Khwi Khi Lai Tay Eya Oo Swnar Thau

Chay Motor Ay Gia Chiar Thau

Kong Uwa Ko Chong Thau.

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(Version in English)

You are a handsome man

And you wear branded clothes

Your dad is a shopowner

When you dig into your pocket, cash is plentiful

When riding a motorbike, you can perform stunts

And when you talk, the crowd is guaranteed to listen!

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About this rhyme:~

This ditty is more of a banter meant to praise guys who are handsome. When recited, it is guaranteed to put a smile on their faces.

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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Bak Hoo

(Version in Hokkien)

Lang Oo Ean Sio Tu

Lai Chi Peng Chniar Lu Chiak Bak Hoo

Nar Chiak Nar Beautiful

Chiak Loke Khi Lu Powerful

Nar Chiak Nar Wonderful

Um Meh Ko Ay Phak Chinese Kung Fu

Tuar Ti Bin Ch’ng Ko Ay Kar Ee Luan Luan Bu

Um Meh Ni Ko Ay Kar Ee Sneh Kong Chu

Lang Peng Ewe Eh Kau Koo Koo

Ar Bay Kau Ang Mor Uwa Kio BladyFool

Lang Lai Chi Peng Oo Ean Sio Tu

Kinna Jit War Bay Cho Cheng Hoo

Kar Khi Bay Bak Hoo

Bak Hoo Ko Chay Chay

Nar Chiak Nar Ho Say!

Lai Chi Peng Ko Oo Kow Ee Thang Chay

Ho Chiak Ay Si Ko Bay Chay Chay

Eng Lai Chit Peng Chay

Khar Eng Ko Khee Siam Tay

Cho Ong Tay!

Ginseng Tay Tay

Seng Chiak Por Sim Thay

Chiak Par Pnuar Mien Say

Por Lu Ay Sim Thay

Ko Por Lu Ay Khar Tay

Um Meh Ko Oo Lart Chniau Karaoke

Pang Keh Ko Ay Lai Holiday

War Eh Lang Ay

Pai Khar Ko Tay

Ang Mor Uwa Kio Everyday

Wa Ji Lai Bay Hoo Tay

Seng Chiak Seng Ho

Khoon Chneh Ar Mien Huan Lo

Chiak Par Khnua Astro

Um Meh Thiau Disco

Beh Chiar Bay Bakerol

Ch’oot Mooi Mm Si Chay Volvo

Chay Backerol

Meh Si Lu Ko Ay Cho Hero

Lang Ko Chin Ho

Lang Lang Khnuar Tiok Lang Lang Ko Ti O Lo

Oo Lang O Lo Tapi Bo Lang Tau

Liow Lu Chiak Liow Ko Chin Chniar Ean Tow

Tay Ya Ko Oo Sau

Bo Lai Chit Peng Chiak

Toe Chiak Teh Lau!

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(Version in English)

It is fate that made us meet

You come here and I treat you with “meat floss”

The more you eat the more beautiful you become

After eating you become more powerful

As you eat you feel more wonderful

In the evening you can display your Chinese Kung Fu

On the bed you are still very capable

At night you can still make scholarly babies

Our friendship will last long

If we can’t click, the English will call it “BladyFool”

When we come here its because of fate that makes us meet

Today I can’t form the government

Therefore I became a “Meat Floss” seller

“Meat Floss” aplenty

The more you eat the more prosperous you become!

Each time you come there will be seats for you

If it tasted good then you can buy more

Do drop by when you are free

If you are freer then maybe you’d go Thailand

And become an emperor!

Ginseng is short

If you eat it before others then it will benefit your body

After finishing you don’t need to wash the crockeries

It has nutritious value for your body

And it even benefits the sole of your feet

At night you have good strength to sing the Karaoke

When the school term breaks, you can come for a holiday

My person is short

Cripple and short

The English says “Everyday”

If you come often I will have trouble to keep it in containers

It is better if you eat first

When you are awake there is no need to worry

After eating you can watch “Astro” (our local tv channel provider)

At night you can dance the Disco

Buy a car, buy a Backerol

When you go out you don’t sit on a Volvo

But a Backerol

At night you can also be a Hero

And possess a good disposition

Everyone who sees you will be full of praises

Many will be flattering you and no one will speak bad about you

And after eating you will be more handsome!

And pocket loaded with Cash

If you don’t come here to eat

Most likely you are dining in a High Class Restaurant!

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About the Rhyme:~

This is a modern lengthy Hokkien Rhyme concocted by a ‘Bak Hoo Seller’ in Lorong Selamat to promote her meat floss. Armed with wit, she keeps her guests entertained with her rhyme while selling her meat floss.

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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Cantik Si Sooi

(Version in Hokkien)

Cantik Si Sooi

Hantu Si Kooi!

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(Version in English)

Cantik means pretty

Hantu means ghost!

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About the Rhyme:~

This rhyme teases damsels who were overly coiffured and applied too much of ‘bedak sejuk’ (a local rice-based moisturising cake) on their faces that makes them look as pale as ghost. The words “cantik” and “hantu” is in Malay meaning “pretty” and “ghost” respectively.

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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Hokkien Lang

(Version in Hokkien)

Teochew Lang

Khar Chwni Ang Ang

Hokkien Lang

Bo Hai Lang

Kong Hu Lang

Kha Chwni Sneh Thang!

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(Version in English)

Teochew people

Flush buttocks

Hokkien people

Never causes harm

Cantonese people

Backside grows worms!

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About the Rhyme:~

This rhyme describes the difference between these three distinct groups of Chinese that landed in old Penang- the Teochews, Hokkiens and Cantonese. More often than not this rhyme causes others to chuckle when uttered.

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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Sim Pu Teh

(Version in Hokkien)

Sim Pu Teh Tiok Ai Lim

Lim Ka Liow Barn Barn Thoon

Meh Ni Siang Ch’ew Phoe Soon

Chit Pnua Ay Soon Ay Cho Seng Lee

Chit Pnua Ay Soon Ay Cho Loh Koon

Oo Looi Toke Bay Masli

Bo Looi Toke Bay Datsun!

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(Version in English)

Tea served by the daughter-in-law, one must drink

Slowly but surely one must fnish it

By next year both hands would have carried a grandchild

Half of the grandchildrens are businessman

While the other half are doctors

When one is rich buy a Mercedes

If one is poorer buy a Datsun!

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About the Rhyme:~

This is a  rhyme recited by the Mistress of Ceremony (Sang Keh Mm) wishing upon the parents of the wedded couple bountiful blessings for able descendants.

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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Oo Hau Bo Hau

(Version in Hokkien)

Oo Hau Ay Chow Wa Cho Koay

Bo Hau Ay Chow Wa Poon Keh Huay

Oo Hau Ay Knia Sai Pai Snar Pie

Bo Hau Ay Knia Sai Si Ang Mor Phai!

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(Version in English)

Filial daughters bake cakes

Unfilial daughters divides fortune

Filial sons bow thee times to pay respect

Unfilial sons are the Western educated ones!

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About the Rhyme:~

This is a  rhyme describing how marriages to Westerners are more than often frowned upon.

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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Koay E’ni

(Version in Hokkien)

Lang Ay E’ni

Lu Ay P’ni

Lang Ay Ang

Lu Ay Peh

Kau Tay Lu Ay Si Ang

Ar Si Peh?

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(Version in English)

Ours is round

Yours is flat

Ours is Red

Yours is white

Actually yors is Red

Or is it white?

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About the Rhyme:~

This is a Childrens’ rhyme heard during the Winter Solstice Festival which is a month before the Chinese New Year. These round glutinous rice balls are a sweet served in many colors but predominantly the colors are red and white. This soup is also served to couples during their wedding ceremony.

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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Si Cheng Bo Kniar

(Version in Hokkien)

Si Cheng Bo Kniar

Bo Tiam Sniar

Sien Kniar Bo Ch’arm

Toke Bo Mia Sniar!

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(Version in English)

If the clock doesn’t move

No one knows the time

If the ruffians do not mingle around

They wont be famous.

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About the Rhyme:~

This is a rhyme and an advice to those wanting to be inducted into bad company. That you cannot be one if you are forever an unknown and therefore one has to stake a fearless reputation for themselves before others could fear them!

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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Or Kow Na Bo Khaw

(Version in Hokkien)

Or Kow Na Bo Khaw

Bar Girl Eh Gia Lai Cho Bor

Bar Girl Na Oo Ch’eng

Chor Kong Toke Chin Leng!

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(Version in English)

The day Guinness Stout is no longer bitter

Then, bar girls could become a wife

If only bar girls could show some gratitude

Our ancestors will forever be at peace!

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About the Rhyme:~

This is a rhyme lamented by one who harbor deep resentment for bar girls perhaps because he has been fleeced by one, two many a time!

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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