Chinese community has the tradition of buying new clothes (cars or gadgets) as a way of celebrating Chinese New Year (CNY). It is not merely a preparation to celebrate the new year but the practice of consuming attire unnecessarily has become part of the celebration. It is as if Lunar New Year includes the buying of new stuffs. Hence every retail shops are having sales promotion during this period.
I remember spending SGD$300 for CNY clothes in Singapore once, about 4 or 5 years ago. That was the most that I have ever spent for my wardrobe in one go. Since then I have lessen my spending. However, this year I want to go a step further by not spending at all.
When I open my wardrobe last week, I saw about 7 shirts that I seldom wear (I have about 15). Last week, I wore one of those shirts which I had never wear for the past 2 years. It was still in good shape and color. At that instant, I know that I don't need new clothes. Nonetheless, I had to face the temptation of buying new clothes. I acquired new clothes for CNY for the past two decades of my life, so to stop getting at least one this year is rather radical. It's engaging the culture that I've grown up with. Culture meant to give meaning to life, not to place people under bondage. Culture needs to be constantly checked and engaged.
"Only once a year..."
"There is promotion going on now..."
"It won't hurt to get just one..."
"You can afford it..."
"Everyone is doing it, what's wrong?"
"Your friends, family members, and even strangers are into it..."
All these came to mind. The fact that these voices appearred is a sign that this is not merely an engagement with culture, but with an entire worldview and tradition. It is unexpectantly lonely to not go along with the mass. Fortunately I have some close ones who share the same thought as me. One is my mother, the other is Joycelyn. They told me that they are not getting any clothes for this new year. Not because they don't have the money, but because they know that they don't need to spend unnecessarily.
However, if anyone has this urgent urge to spend during this CNY, you can consider sending the money to the needy, for eg. through agencies like Worldvision in Singapore and Malaysia. Make this a special way to celebrate Chinese New Year. Celebrating it in a style that is not only different but meaningful. Meaningful because you are begining the new year not by buying stuffs that you don't need, but by helping to fulfill the physical needs of others. Especially those who are less fortunate.
Meanwhile, I'll keep resisting the temptation. You may too. Let not the new year starts by us being the victims of consumerism. Let the new year marks a new approach to participate in God's project to bring true joy, peace and justice to earth. Happy Chinese/Lunar New Year.