Big way to usher in Chinese New Year

VIDEO: JANELLE YEO

Chinese New Year at the Yeo household is usually a busy affair - more so yesterday as relatives came adorned with their Chinese zodiac animals to usher in the Year of the Rooster.

The Yeos made the extra effort to be a bit different this year by getting everyone to wear T-shirts bearing their respective zodiac signs. The only animal not represented was the horse.

Ms Janelle Yeo, 25, said the family bought the T-shirts online for $24 each.

"Our family is a very spontaneous family, and we love doing things together," said Ms Yeo, a start-up founder. "So when my aunt came across this shirt online, it was very much a no-brainer to say, yes, let's all wear this together, and do something different and fun this 2017."

Yesterday, 26 members of the family crammed into a condominium unit near Pandan Gardens, jostling around two tables with a steamboat cooker at each end.

The Yeo family dressed in matching T-shirts bearing their respective zodiac signs at their reunion lunch yesterday. Twenty-six members of the family spanning four generations were present; two could not make it.
The Yeo family dressed in matching T-shirts bearing their respective zodiac signs at their reunion lunch yesterday. Twenty-six members of the family spanning four generations were present; two could not make it. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

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The eight families of the Yeo household, spread across four generations, hold a reunion lunch every year on the eve of Chinese New Year. This year, there is extra reason to celebrate - three-month-old Luna, their newest member and the only member of the fourth generation. Luna is the daughter of Ms Yeo's older brother Darrell.

The oldest member is Ms Yeo's grandmother, Madam Choo Geok Yian, 75. Most members of the tight-knit family live in the west, said Ms Yeo.

Apart from steamboat, lunch also featured several of Madam Choo's speciality dishes, including steamed carrot cake, fried yam balls, peng cai and curry chicken.

The Chinese New Year meals are special, said Ms Yeo. "This is the one time when we gather, spend time and eat together."

Only two Yeo members were absent from the festivities - one is studying in Britain and the other is doing national service.

Said Mr Bernard Yeo, 55, Madam Choo's son: "I get lots of compliments from relatives and friends saying your family is real special."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'Big way to usher in Chinese New Year'. Print Edition | Subscribe