In Northern China, everybody knows the meaning of “Wei Lu” or “Gathering Around the Stove”, a very important festivity at the end of the year. However, few people in the South know the meaning. “Wei Lu” is the New Year’s Eve celebration where the whole family sit together around the stove for a meal.
It is an old custom that as the year draws to an end, all family members who are studying, trading or traveling away from home must return and welcome the New Year together. The whole family gather around the stove eating, chatting and enjoying each other’s company. The elders will take this opportunity to instruct and teach, while the juniors will report on things which happened during the year and ask for advice. The juniors will also present monetary offerings to support the elders.
In the Xian Feng period of the Qing Dynasty, Mr. Wang Yong Bin wrote “Chatting Around the Stove”, a record of conversations with his family. When they are free, Wang’s family liked to sit together and talk about their lives and current affairs. The scenes are so charming and sentimental that the reader cannot help but admire the simple and worthy tradition. Like many of the customs and traditions which stem from the agricultural society of China, “Wei Lu” is one which we should take up and preserve. We should take time to think and talk about the preservation of agricultural environment and traditions, protection of our land and our culture for a greener and better tomorrow.
Master Sik Chi Wan