Gong Xi Fa Cai 2572, Kerbau Logam

Oleh : M. Dwi Cahyono


Chinese New Year (Gong Xi Fa Cai) Song Lyrics in Chinese *

每条大街小巷

Mei tiao da jie xiao xiang..

每个人的嘴里  Mei ge ren di zui li.. 见面第一句话  Jian mian di yi ju hua.. 就是恭喜恭喜

Jiu shi gong xi gong xi..

恭喜恭喜恭喜你呀  Gong xi gong xi gong xi ni ya.. 恭喜恭喜恭喜你

Gong xi gong xi gong xi ni..

冬天已到尽头

Dong tian yi dao jing tou..

真是好的消息  Zhen shi hao di xiao xi.. 温暖的春风

Wen nuan di chun feng..

就要吹醒大地

Jiu yao chui xing da di..

恭喜恭喜恭喜你呀

Gong xi gong xi gong xi ni ya..

恭喜恭喜恭喜你

Gong xi gong xi gong xi ni..

浩浩冰雪融解

Hao hao bing xue rong jie..

眼看梅花吐蕊  Yan kan mei hua tu rui.. 漫漫长夜过去

Man man chang ye guo qu..

听到一声鸡啼  Ting dao yi shen ji ti.. 恭喜恭喜恭喜你呀

Gong xi gong xi gong xi ni ya..

恭喜恭喜恭喜你

Gong xi gong xi gong xi ni..

经过多少困难

Jing guo duo shao kun nan..

历经多少磨练

li jing duo shao mo lian..

多少心儿盼望

Duo shao xin er pan wang..

盼望春的消息

Pan wang chun de xiao xi..

恭喜恭喜恭喜你呀  Gong xi gong xi gong xi ni ya.. 恭喜恭喜恭喜你

Gong xi gong xi gong xi ni..

(Lirik Lagu “Gong Xi Fa Cai”, Bahasa Mandarin)

A. Naming Background of “Kue Keranjang”

The name “keranjang” is given to the typical Chinese New Year cake dish because the manufacturing process is printed on a basket-shaped container. Another name is “Kue Bakul, Dodol China, or sweet cake”.

It’s called “Dodol China” because the basic ingredients are glutinous rice flour and sugar, so it has a chewy and sticky texture, brown in color–like the typical texture and color of what is in the local term named “Jenang Dodol”. It is called a “sweet cake”, because it has a sweet taste.

The Chinese term for basket cake is “nian gao ( 糕 )”, which in Hokkien dialect is called “ti kwe (甜棵)”. The word ” (nián) means “sticky”, and has the same pronunciation as the word “年” which means : year. The word “糕 (gāo)” means: cake, and has the same pronunciation as the word “高”, which means: high.

The name is “nian gao (sticky cake)” according to the texture of this cake, which is sticky like jenang usually, because it is made from glutinous rice flour, brown sugar. The raw materials for the basket cake are relatively small, namely rice flour, brown sugar and vegetable oil. Literally, the term “nian gao” also means: annual cake. It is named so, because this sweet cake is only made once a year, when the Chinese New Year comes.

B. Presence and Utilization of “Kue Keranjang”

Together with kue ku (kue cikal), lapis legit, diamonds, octagonal sweets, tang yuang, and cupcakes, it is felt that something is missing if we don’t present a basket cake (nian gao) when celebrating Chinese New Year. These cakes are complementary snacks in Chinese New Year celebrations. In addition, there are other snacks that are also often served at Chinese New Year celebrations, such as yusheng, fried noodles (shiu mie), milkfish, chicken or duck, jiaozi (kuotie), soup of eight forms of pork, boiled eggs with tea, Mandarin oranges, sweets and pastries, and fried spring rolls.

Chinese New Year is synonymous with the presentation of Kue Keranjang, which are always served during Chinese New Year celebrations. Basket cake is a mandatory cake during Chinese New Year celebrations. Therefore, the need for basket cakes is increasing as the Chinese New Year approaches. This cake is made just before the celebration of the Chinese New Year, which is usually used for remembrance of ancestors by ethnic Chinese in Indonesia. Eating and distributing basket cakes during Chinese New Year celebrations has become a hereditary tradition, handed down by the ancestors of the Chinese people.

Basket cakes began to be used as offerings at ancestral prayers, namely one week (seven days) before the Chinese New Year (廿 四 送 尫 Ji Si Sang Ang). At first, the basket cakes were intended as a dish to please the Furnace God (竈 君 公 Cau Kun Kong) to bring pleasant reports to the king of Heaven (玉 皇 上 帝 Giok Hong Siang Te). The peak is at night approaching the Lunar New Year. As an offering, basket cakes are usually not eaten until the time of Cap Go Meh, which is the 15th night after the Chinese New Year.

Kue Keranjang Universitas Brawijaya
Photo by nibble.id

C. Mythological Background of “Kue Keranjang” Serving

1. Giant Nian VS Cake Maker Gao

The element of the name “nian” in the term “nian gao” according to Ancient Chinese mythology is a giant who lives in a cave in a mountain. He goes out to hunt when he is hungry. When winter comes, many animals hibernate, which Nian uses to go down to the villages to look for victims to eat. For decades, the villagers were afraid of Nian, until finally there was a villager named “Gao” who had the sense to make some simple cakes from glutinous rice flour and sugar, then placed them at the door to be served to Nian.

When Nian was looking for prey, he saw a basket cake in front of the house and ate it until he was full. The sweet taste of this cake is easy to make him full. After being full, Nian then returned to the cave leaving the village. Since then, the villagers have made basket cakes every winter to prevent Nian from hunting and preying on humans or livestock. There was a transformation from animal sacrifice to food sacrifice (culinary sacrifice). Since then, the basket cake has been used as an offering for the giant Nian. The name of the giant “Nian” and the person who initiated the cake (namely “Gao”) were combined into “Nian Gao” to name the cake.

Every Chinese New Year, which in mainland China coincides with the arrival of winter —— the time which in mythology is the perfect time for Nian giants to find prey, nian gao cake (Chinese term for “basket cake”) is traditionally served as a snack for their ancestors. It is illustrated that the nian gao cake present on Chinese New Year is based on ancient Chinese mythology related to the Nian giant and the originator of the basket cake maker named Gao.

From the point of view of cultural gastronomy, this cake made from sticky rice, tastes sweet, and even lasts a long time to be eaten as a “food reserve” in winter. If the amount is excessive, then some of it is distributed to others. Even if it’s moldy, the basket cake can be eaten, just throw away the attached fungus, and it tastes even better. In the lunar calendar system adopted in China, the beginning of the year always coincides with the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The ancient farmers made Chinese New Year the forerunner of the “Spring Festival” which took place at the beginning of the year.

2. Offerings for the God of the Furnace

Mythology is not the only story behind the presence of basket cakes on Chinese New Year. There is another story which states that at first, basket cake was a dish that was served to please the God of the Furnace (Cau Kun Kong) to give the King of Heaven (Giok Hong Siang Te) good and happy news. Another legend relates to the ancient Chinese war history.

3. Wartime Food Reserve

In the legend, it is stated that the basket cake originated from the Suzhou area, and has existed since about 2,500 years ago. At that time, China was still divided into several kingdoms, which could lead to war at any time. Suzhou was the Capital of the Wu Empire, which was protected by a fortified fort against enemy attacks. Everyone was anxious about the possibility of war, except for Premier Wu Zixu. He said to his guards, “War is not to be taken lightly. Strong walls do protect us. But when the enemy besieged our kingdom, the wall also became a barrier to escape or find food. The next time something bad happens, remember to dig a hole under the wall.”

Several years later, after Wu Zixu’s death, his words came true. Many people starved to death from running out of food supplies when the royal capital of Wu was besieged by the enemy. The royal guards then remembered Zixu’s message to dig the ground under the fortress walls. They were surprised to find the walls of the fort at the bottom were built using bricks made of glutinous rice flour and sugar. It is this food that saves many lives from starvation. The “brick” is said to be the origin of nian gao. Since then, people have started making nian gao every year to commemorate Wu Zixu’s services. Over time, this cake became a common snack and was usually served during the new year.

According to history, nian gao cakes began about a thousand years ago, during the reign of the Liao Dynasty (907–1125). At that time, people in Beijing had a habit of eating cake on the new year. This is when the custom of making basket cakes began to become a tradition. Furthermore, during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), basket cakes began to become snacks for the general public. It continues to this day. This cake can last up to one year. On the new year, people save basket cakes to be enjoyed at any time in the future.

D. The Meaning of “Kue Keranjang”

The round cake basket means that families celebrating Chinese New Year are expected to continue to be united, harmonious, and determined to face the coming year. The endless rounded shape symbolizes boundless attachment. The meaning in relation to family life is to always be together, without time limit, so that harmony is created in life and is ready to face the future. Moreover, Chinese New Year is a moment for family gathering, so the meaning of the basket cake gives the spirit to maintain the harmony of family life.

Basket cakes that are usually distributed during Chinese New Year celebrations symbolize sustenance and prosperity, with the hope of getting blessings and prosperity throughout the year. The blessing of prosperity is not only for oneself but also contributed to others to make others happy as an embodiment of the distribution of positive values. There is also value in the distribution of the basket cake, mutual help.

Its soft and chewy texture conveys tenacity, persistence, and high fighting power. In addition, the sticky nature means a close and unified brotherhood. Another characteristic of the basket cake is that it can last a long time, which symbolizes a long-lasting and quality relationship. In family relationships, its enduring nature symbolizes a lasting relationship even though times have changed.

Its sweetness means joy or pleasure in life to enjoy blessings, as well as a willingness to give the best in life. Kindness is not only for oneself but also for others. This sweet cake is often arranged in tiers, getting smaller, and smaller, which means an increase in sustenance or prosperity in the family ahead of the new year.

The process of making basket cakes which takes a long time (11 to 12 hours) means patience, persistence, tenacity, fighting power, determination, and an aspiration to rediscover the purpose of life, to get maximum and best results. The manufacturing process requires a clean, clear mind, and concentration. To be able to get a basket cake that tastes good and has a perfect texture, it must be accompanied by a clean heart from bad prejudice. If these conditions are violated, it is likely that the cake made will not be perfect, that is, it will be mushy and pale. The meaning contained in it is to think positively, by cleaning the heart from bad prejudices. In addition, the basket cake which has a long durability symbolizes loyalty.

This is a brief review of the story and meaning behind the constant happiness of the basket cake (nian gao) at the celebration of Chinese New Year. Hopefully it will be useful. Gong Xi Fa Cai for Chinese brothers and sisters who celebrate Chinese New Year 2572. Thank you.

Sangkaling, 12 Februari 2021 Griyajar CITRALEKHA