Last week I went to Mother’s home, joining the rest of the family in celebration of Lunar New Year, the Year of Goat. I stayed with my eldest brother, who is quite in-tuned with traditional customs. One custom in particular, with my personal lifestyle and current situation, maybe borderline superstition–This is another story, as a result of being far and away from my roots over the years…
As I mentioned in my previous entry, a nice custom about Lunar New Year is when everyone gets busy, in the final weeks leading to the changing time–washing their cars, cleaning their houses, shopping for new clothes, etc. That was exactly what happened in my brothers house. They rearranged furnitures, changed the living room rug, washed all the clothes, sheets, even hired a cleaning crew to deep clean the house… All this happened before New Years Day.
I, the traveler living out of her suitcase, accumulated some laundry during my stay. But the laundry machine had been occupied. So the only time I found both the machine and myself available to do the wash was after dinner on New Years Day.
So I washed my clothes on New Years Day. It was loud. The whole house could hear the machine running–Especially the dryer–when my jean buttons contantly banged on the rolling drum. My brother came and asked, “Are you doing laundry?”
“Yeah. Why? What’s wrong?”
“You’re not supposed to do laundry on New Years Day! Forget laundry, any kind of wash is sacrilege!”
“WHAT? Oh my god, REALLY?! What ghost or God did I offend now?”
“THE WATER GOD!!”
“Ugh… What am I supposed to do now with my clothes all wet?”
Realizing me not knowing the custom, my brother forgave me at once. “It’s Ok,” he said, “Don’t worry about it. Just keep drying your clothes.”
I racked my brain with causes and effects, ecological effects, philosophy and science… If washing offends Water God, should we instead on New Years Day offend people around us with B.O.? 😬
I welcome anyone who knows more about this custom to enlighten me, and to share your insight with my readers. Thanks in advance.