The Localist

Family tradition, from Hong Kong to Sydney

thelocalist.com_chinesefamilydinner

I thank my lucky stars that I was born into a large family. Count seven children on my mother’s side and six on my father’s – that’s a whole lotta uncles and aunties. Throw their offspring and their offspring’s offspring into the mix and you have one giant melting pot of Pangs! (Both my parents coincidentally had the same last name).

My parents were both born in Hong Kong, as were my sister and I. We moved around between Hong Kong, Melbourne and Sydney growing up, and I’ve called Sydney home for the past sixteen years. My parents live in Sydney now, and my sister in Hong Kong. As for the rest of my extended family, they’re largely split between Sydney and Hong Kong, with a few sprinkled farther afield in Canada and the UK.

The sheer number of relatives I have makes traditional Chinese festivals so fantastic, whether I’m in Sydney or visiting Hong Kong. Even with my Sydney-based relatives frequently returning to Hong Kong to visit the extended family, you can always count on there being enough people to bring an atmosphere of warmth and love when we get together for the festivals we celebrate throughout the year.

The celebrations mostly involve eating. Whether it’s Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival or Winter Solstice, we’ll either sit down to a feast at a local Chinese restaurant (like Fook Yuen Seafood Restaurant in Chatswood, or Flavours of Peking in Castlecrag) or at a relative’s house. Despite Sydney and HK being totally different cities and home to different sets of relatives, the family celebrations evoke this sense of belonging that feels exactly the same to me in both cities.

It doesn’t happen often enough but I love being in HK for big family dinners. I get to see all the relatives I’ve not seen for years, but as soon as we sit down to eat I feel like no time as passed and I’m a part of something so much bigger and wonderful. Like a piece of a patchwork quilt. What a beautiful thing family tradition is.

I often think it would be very different if I had a smaller family… like I said, I thank my lucky stars.

AUS_CharmainePang_M

 

MEET THE LOCAL: CHARMAINE PANG

 

Image. Photo by Charmaine Pang.

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