by Kathleen Pokrud President of Hong Kong Ladies’ Group in Thailand
There is a common Chinese saying, “The arrival of the Winter Festival is more important than the New Year.” Among Chinese families, the arrival of Winter is to be celebrated like Thanksgiving in the United States. Although not officially treated as a national holiday in many cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Taipei, Chinese families will have a hearty meal together. Companies allow staff to leave the office early to be home on time. Mothers prepare a wide spread of delicious dishes to show gratitude for the whole family gathering.
Chinese New Year preparation
The date of the Chinese New Year changes every year to follow the Lunar calendar, and signify by the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs. There is no fixed date for the Chinese New Year. 2019 is the Year of The Pig and the New Year falls on February 5.
Also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, the holiday marks the end of the coldest days welcoming the arrival of spring with hope of new planting and harvest.
It is celebrated in other Asian countries such as South Korea, Thailand, Laos, Singapore and Vietnam. The Chinese New Year is celebrated by Chinese communities all around the world. In China, the festive week is referred The Golden Week holidays where almost the entire country shuts down, with offices and factories countrywide closed for the spring break. Chinese citizens travel thousand miles back to their hometown’s to pay respect to their elderly relatives. Technically, the 15 days celebration period marks one of the largest human migrations in the world. The celebrations of Chinese New Year officially ends on the first full moon of the lunar year, the 15th day and generally known as the Lantern Festival. It is a night of freedom and partying, and unofficially referred as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. Red is the favorite colour for Chinese and also the main colour representation of the Chinese New Year. The colours to be favoured in 2019 in order to balance the energy flows of a year of the Earth Pig are red and white, whether it is for fashion trends, weddings, gifts or home decoration.
Some fond childhood memories of Chinese New Year
Growing up in a four generation household with the presence of my Great Grandmother, and Grandparents, I recall seeing my Great Grandmother supervising the maids to make all the homemade puddings and snacks for Chinese New Year. We never brought any ready made holiday goodies from the retail shops.
The happiest time for children is Chinese New Year. Apart from the abundance of food offered during the period, as children we received lots of red packets or “lai-see” which is lucky money signifying the transfer of fortune from the elders
Some of the previous beneficiaries from the Hong Kong Ladies’ Group’s charity funds:
The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China for earthquake and flood victims in China, Kwong Siew Hospital, The Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia for victims from earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi Island through Indonesian Red Cross, Community Learning Center Wat Arun Rajawararam and Pink Park Village to their offspring. The cash would always be new, fresh and crisp notes. Children were not allowed to use the lucky money for lavish spending but encouraged to save it in the bank. This may be one of the reasons why Chinese are frugal and have goodhabits in saving money, as we are all taught at a very young age.Days before the Chinese New Year, the spring cleaning is due in every household. However, on the actual New Year Day, the sweeping of the floor or hanging laundry are forbidden. New Year bazaars are common scene during this period. Shoppers walk along all the multiple vendors to stock up for fresh flowers and plants to be used in New Year displays. Candy bars and snacks to offer to families and friends who drop by for exchange visits.
The Hong Kong Ladies’ Group
The Hong Kong Ladies’ Group is a Bangkok based, non profit making social group founded in 1991. Our objective is to assist newly arriving lady expatriates from Hong Kong to adjust to their new environment and to meet new friends through the monthly luncheons and activities. Apart from promoting friendship, unity and mutual support amongst members during their residence in Thailand, HKLG has also established a charity trust, funds from whichare used to help the needy throughout the country. The patron of Hong Kong Ladies’ Group is the Spouse of the Ambassador of The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Thailand. Madame Pan Peng is our current patron and she has graciously supported and sponsored us since her arrival to Thailand.
Past Presidents of Hong Kong Ladies’ Group
Pan Bencharit (Past President 1991-1992 )
“I was the founding member of HKLG and also the first President. We had about 20 members. I was born in Bangkok and went to study at St Steven’s College in Hong Kong as a boarder from 1953 to 1962. My stay in HK really changed my whole life. Not only because I learned English and Chinese but I also met my husband who turned out to be a very nice man. We were married for over 50 years, and he never lost his temper once in front of me.”
Rose Navapan (Past President 1994)
“I am one of the founding members of HKLG. I joined because I missed my beloved Hong Kong and at that time, I met a few fellow Hong Kong ladies who married Thai husbands. We felt the need to set up a community group to keep our closeness to Hong Kong. I took my fellow friends children to make charity donation upcountry at the Thai border. This was one of the starting points of HKLG charity funds.”
Masey Chinsomboon (Past President 1995)
“Being a member of HKLG has given me opportunity to meet ladies who have long established themselves in Thailand as well as those who are newcomers. There is a wealth of experience and expertise I can learn from and friendships that I cherish. From the beginning our founding president Khun Pan Bencharit reminded us that as privileged expatriates we have the duty to contribute back to the country which has welcomed us generously. We have adhered to this greater cause by helping those in need since then. This is what makes HKLG special to me.”
Celicia Chung (Past President 1996)
“HKLG was formed for the purpose of introducing newcomers to Bangkok from Hong Kong. To meet each other and introducing them to life in a new country of residence.”
Betty Phanphensophon (Past President 1997)
“Hong Kong Ladies’ Group is a non profitable social organization. A fun, friendly, and supportive community where our new members get to experience Thailand together with us long term expats. Our members volunteer their time and energy to work for the club, they take pride in the charitable endeavors, supporting local charities mostly through fundraising. Through luncheon gatherings, we enjoy cultural, family activities, celebrate birthdays for our members, meet newcomers and catch up with returning members. All of this so that we can build lifelong friendships and to have a community where we feel most at home. I’m thankful for being a member and having the opportunity to be the President in 1997.”
Ruby Shum (Past President 1998-1999)
“I have made friends with a lot of members of HKLG in the past. Some of them even became close friends too. Being a president in 1998 and 1999 was a fun experience for me. I learned a lot from the work with the group and organization skill.”
Ellen Liu (Past President 2001-2002)
It is my pleasure to take this opportunity to introduce myself and the Hong Kong Ladies’ Group. I have been living in Thailand since I married my husband in 1979. I had a shop that sold Cantonese movie videos at the beginning then worked in a garment factory for five years, a luggage factory for two years for the same boss.
I joined HKLG in 1997 when Betty was President. I worked as a volunteer in HKLG for 13 years and enjoyed my volunteer jobs. I loved to organize different events. Hong Kong Ladies’ Group is a non-profit social group in Bangkok which started in 1991 with the aim of helping new expatriates from HK to get adjusted to the new environment and make friends through our social events and charity work in Thailand. I worked on the committee for many years and I knew the committee members tried their best to organize the monthly luncheon for members and Charity Gala Ball for the underprivileged in Thailand. We have to support and encourage them every month and year. I hope our group will get more and more members every year.
Winnie Lo (Past President 2003, 2007, 2015-2018)
“Hong Kong Ladies’ Group is very dear to my heart. I was fortunate to be elected as President for two years back in 2003 and 2007. I was more grateful to be re-elected again in 2015 and led HKLG for the past four consecutive years. During this past period of presidency, I hosted three gala balls within four years, and shared the joy with many HK friends on the marriage of both my daughter and son. I was thrilled to be a grandmother three times over these years. Our group has proven to be an anchor for the Hong Kong community in Thailand with an emotional connection to our motherland.
Grace Kwok (Past President 2005- 2006)
“Masey brought me into the HKLG and then I made lot of friends here. Unexpectedly I was elected President in 2005 and 2006. I gained experience for cooperating with the committees
and running three Gala Ball’s with no difficulties! I am proud of them and now we are all close friends going for my.ch, dinner and trips! It is wonderful!”
Candy Tsang (Past President 2008)
“My greatest joy of being the President of the Hong Kong Ladies’ Group is to be able to help the local community and the underprivileged people. Through our luncheons and annual charity balls, we learn together and make a lot of friends! I think to join HKLG is a good place to start the expatriates’ life in Bangkok.”
Teresa Pang Biesty (Past President 2011-2013)
“Although I have made Thailand my home for almost 30 years, I still think lovingly about my home in Hong Kong. The HKLG allows me to join in the company of Hong Kong Chinese people living in Thailand who share the same emotional connection to Hong Kong.”
Chinese Horoscope – The Year of the Pig 2019
Rat – born in 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008
The 2019 Rat Horoscope is prosperity and happiness this year. To avoid influence of bad luck, avoid funerals and stay away from hospitals. Remain healthy and strong by watching your diet and exercise.
Ox – born in 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009
The oriental sign of Ox has a prime place in Chinese symbolism for its diligence, perseverance, tenacity and thoroughness. Your 2019 Ox Horoscope shows that you can expect a more auspicious year with some hurdles in between but overall stability is expected. Strengthen family bonds to prepare yourself for any unexpected storms in the coming months.
Tiger – born in 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010
For the Orientals, the Tiger symbolizes power, strength, dynamism, intense activity, independence. Many Tigers are courageous, active and self-assured, and make popular readers. 2019 is more productive, with helping hands to share support. Being relaxed and friendly is the right approach this year.
Rabbit – born in 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011
In 2019 the Rabbit needs to prepare to work hard and stay calm to adapt the changing times of your horoscope. You will be able to make progress of your dreams, and expect development in your career, finances, and relationships. Learn to control your words and behavior to avoid disputes with friends. Remember to be extra careful when you travel on trips and excursions.
Dragon – born in 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012
The Dragon is a major Chinese sign for good fortune, power and luck. To the Orientals, the gifted Dragon possesses magical powers with a strangely lucky mystical side. In a confrontation, most Dragons have a tendency to misjudge the situation, and few are adept at extricating themselves from difficulties. One should note that most Dragons can be ferociously brutal when angered. In 2019, prepare to stay focused and maintain good deeds to ensure your luck lasts throughout the year. Be more compliant this year to build more affection.
Snake – born in 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013
The Snake 2019 Horoscope shows this year has its challenges. Be active in presenting act of kindness to help balance out bad energy. Prepare to work harder this year to navigate any challenges. To boost more positive energy, attend more weddings and birthday celebrations, and minimize visits to funerals.
Horse – born in 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014
Horses are hardworking, aggressive, ambitious, and intelligent with boundless energy and ambition but despise being pressured. Freedom and independence are as essential to most Horses. The Horse Horoscope 2019 shows that you can expect an excellent year ahead. Monitor your stress levels by working on your healthy lifestyle with exercise and a well-balanced diet.
Sheep – born in 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015
The Sheep Horoscope for 2019 proves to be a fantastic year ahead, as several of your lucky stars are on the horizon. Expect success in all areas of your pursuit. However, not to misspend your good fortune, do try to remain hardworking and reliable when dealing with important issues with significant values.
Monkey – born in 1920 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016
Dear Monkey, in 2019 be prepared to take less risk which Monkeys are generally known for.The Monkey Horoscope for 2019 shows you may expect better outcomes this year. Share your fun seeking vibe with the Pig, and forget the hardships endured in the past years.
Rooster – born in 1921 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017
The Rooster Horoscope 2019 predicts a more comfortable year ahead. Roosters will be better off to relax more than looking for new challenges. To ensure not fallen into bad fortune, it is best to avoid hospitals and funerals in order not to absorb negative energy around. Fill your days with leisure hours to attract positive energy.
Dog – born in 1922 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006 2018
The 2019 Dog Horoscope shows that Pig and Dog are very different, so difficulties and challenges could arise. Dogs’ cautious approach will need to be adapted to the Pigs’ easy manners to ensure success this year. Practice more simple charm to make the most of your fortune this year.
Pig – born in 1923 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007 2019
The Pig 2019 Horoscope is the year of one’s zodiac sign. Traditionally not a lucky year so pigs will most likely experience emotional ups and downs. It is best to try and keep calm at any trying situations.