Happy Chinese New Year — the year of the rabbit.
That’s Happy New Year in Mandarin.
Monday is the beginning of a new lunar year on the Chinese calendar.
Chinese New Year is to the Chinese what Christmas is to Westerners. It is a big holiday that stretches over two weeks. It involves preparation, decorating, visiting with friends and family, giving gifts, and making and eating large quantities of food.
As a dual-culture household we are learning, in baby steps, how to incorporate some aspects of Chinese culture into our lives.
This past weekend we attended two Chinese New Year celebrations. The first was more of a play date with the families in our Mandarin school. Our teacher, who is from Shanghai, China, directed us in serving some traditional dishes: dumplings and noodles with fresh oranges for dessert. She then gave all her young students a small gift.
She also gave us some basic guidelines in superstitions surrounding the holidays:
She said it’s important to thoroughly clean your home for the New Year. It’s bad luck to get your hair cut during this holiday. But eating to your heart’s content is encouraged. So, a little work, some sacrifices and a big food reward in the end. Not too bad.
The second celebration was a huge banquet held by our local Families with Children from China chapter. While the event wouldn’t be viewed as traditional in the eyes of Chinese-born celebrants, it is tradition for our large group of families to gather annually and present a number of things that teach, remind and represent Chinese culture to our children.
Aside from a meal of Chinese food, our banquet featured a performance by Xiao Dong Wei; a puppet show that depicted the origins of the Chinese zodiac and the lunar new year celebration; and a dragon parade composed of many of the children in attendance.
Each year our Girl from the East finds more reasons to enjoy herself at this event. This year she summoned enough courage to join the marching children in the parade.
We still have so much to learn about our daughter’s culture, but we enjoy taking it in one step at a time, just as she is.
Happy Year of the Ox.