by Lindsay Wong
Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
This is probably the most common question any unmarried person can be asked and it certainly isn’t limited to Chinese New Year celebrations. As long as you’re meeting any relative after not having seen him/her in awhile, you will hear this question, from cousins, aunties, uncles and grandparents alike.
Why are you so skinny/fat?
This is only a pleasant question to answer if you have successfully finished dieting. CNY is a time to forget about diets and just enjoy feasting on all the delicious home-cooked food. There’s not much you can reply to this while still being polite, so the best thing you can do is just laugh awkwardly and change the topic.
Are you still studying? What’s your job? What are you studying, anyway?
It can become tiring to answer the exact same questions every year while explaining briefly how your degree works in simple terms. If you haven’t graduated yet, you’ll probably be answering the same question again next year. Questions about jobs can actually be stressful to answer if you’re in the middle of an existential crisis about your future. A follow-up question could also be about how much you’re earning (aunties love to compare and talk about money).
Why do you keep looking at your phone?
Maybe because their phone is more interesting than a pesky relative, which definitely won’t bombard them with questions. If everyone is engaged in conversation already, it’s awkward to just barge in. In these cases, scrolling through social media is the default option so that you don’t look like a loner.
Why do you look so tired?
So much social interactions at big family events can actually take a toll on you mentally, especially when you have to endure all the questions and small talk thrown at you with relatives you aren’t familiar with. Furthermore, you’re allowed to be tired, this is your first holiday from work/school since the year started.
Why are you wearing black on Chinese New Year?
The older generation is more traditional and will scold you if you wear black on CNY. Even though black flatters all body shapes, it is associated with death and bad luck. Wearing such an unlucky colour for CNY would not be a great way to usher in the new year. Instead, people believe that it’s better to wear red during this celebratory period because of its auspicious nature and reputation as a lucky colour in Chinese culture. However, ultimately, the choice is yours.
Why can’t you be like your sibling?
If you’re an only child, you’re lucky you don’t have to hear this. Like the first question on this list, this is also a common question that you can hear at any time of the year from anybody, especially from your parents. Unfortunately, comparing is a part of human nature.
If you’re able to subtly avoid these questions or quickly change the topic of the conversation, you will definitely have a smooth-sailing and enjoyable Chinese New Year.