Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Celebrating Lunar New Year

Happy New Year! Today is the first day of the Year of the Wood Horse. The Chinese New Year holiday lasts two weeks, from the new moon to the full moon, and each day has special significance. On the first day, people traditionally visit the elder members of their family and watch a lion dance performance. You can read about the meaning of each day of the holiday via Wikipedia. For a glimpse of how the New Year is celebrated in a rural Chinese village, ChinaFile has posted a beautiful slideshow showing the preparations and festivities. This video tells the story of the traditions of the New Year, and the monster Nian, who can only be chased away by loud noises and the color red:

If you are looking for ways to celebrate at home, InCulture Parent has posted a really useful round-up of craft projects, recipes and books. In our house, two books that are especially popular this year are The Year of the Horse: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac and The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale

And if you live in the Bay Area, both 510families and Red Tricycle have posted lists of local events celebrating the New Year. Our favorite annual event is the Oakland Museum celebration, which is a pan-Asian festival full of amazing performances and activities. The mocha pounding demonstration is always a highlight.



Happy Year of the Horse!

Tonight marks the end of the Year of the Snake and the entrance of the Year of the Horse. The World of Chinese has a nice post explaining how to behave to increase your chances of a lucky horse year.

On the Chinese Internet, well-wishers share greetings and cards to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The Year of the Horse allows for especially creative greetings, as the word “horse” is used in various Chinese idioms. A common New Year greeting this year is “马到成功!” which is an idiom wishing someone success (it translates loosely as “Ride your horse to success” and comes from a story dating back to the Qin Dynasty).

The phrase, “马上” literally means, “on a horse” but is used in everyday language to mean “immediately” (because, of course, once upon a time in China, the fastest way to get somewhere was by horse). So this year, “马上” means both “in the Year of the Horse” and “immediately.” Greeting cards are using this to wish people good things, immediately, in the horse year.

This image and others like it are circulating in online forums in China to send wishes for things which are notoriously difficult in China; the image above sends wishes for the recipient to “have a new car, have a vacation, have money, and find a partner” on the back of the Horse.

Happy Year of the Horse! May you each ride your own horse to success, whatever that means to you.


Welcoming the Dragon

[Cartoon by Chen Chunming via China Media Project]

We are already on Day 5 of the Year of the Dragon, but it is not too late to celebrate. Lunar New Year is a two-week celebration, from the first new moon of the lunar calendar to the first full moon. If you are lucky enough to live in the Bay Area, there are lots of fun events coming up in the next few weeks.
Read the rest of this entry »


Dragon Songs

I am not a big fan of Chinese children’s music. Yet over the past seven years I have spent innumerable hours listening to it, in all it’s synthesized, saccharine sweetness, and have learned to tune it out to such a degree that after I drop my children off at school, I occasionally leave the CD playing because I no longer hear it. Nevertheless, early on, I bought and downloaded as many Chinese songs as I could, as I was (and still am) convinced that music is one of the surest and fastest ways for children to learn language. Now that my two children are comfortably fluent in Mandarin, I have tried to wean them off the CDs, which has worked without effort for my seven-year-old but not so well for my three-year-old.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the new Little Dragon Tales, Chinese Songs for Children CD, performed by Shanghai Restoration Project featuring Yip’s Canada Children’s Choir. Read the rest of this entry »


Why Doesn’t China Let Baba Go Home?

I wrote an essay for InCulture Parent about our efforts to keep our children’s Chinese identity alive when their father cannot travel home. Please read it here. And for those who haven’t read it before, InCulture Parent is a fabulous resource for anyone raising a multicultural family (or anyone interested in the world outside the U.S.).


Happy Lantern Festival

Tonight is Lantern Festival (元宵节), and we should all be strolling the streets with our lanterns in hand, gazing at the full moon, and watching fireworks light up the sky. Here we did indulge in sweet, sticky, gooey, delicious yuanxiao (not homemade), and with that, Chinese New Year 2011 is over.

[photo by A God’s Child on flickr]


Scenes from a Lunar New Year celebration

The Oakland Museum Lunar New Year celebration is a feast of music, dance, food, stories and crafts from around Asia. The mochi pounding is always a highlight. See scenes from our visit today below, and I hope everyone else’s celebrations for the Year of the Rabbit have been as joyful and festive.

Watch video clips here.


Year of the Rabbit

The Year of the Rabbit is now upon us. My kids went off to school in their new outfits this morning, and I did manage to make noodles last night to ensure our long lives, but I did not clean the house from top to bottom nor give my kids haircuts, as custom mandates. I hope this does not bode ill for the Rabbit Year, which by all accounts is supposed to be placid and peaceful, just what we all need.

InCulture Parent has posted several fun craft projects for the Lunar New Year. My daughter came home from her Chinese daycare with a thumbprint plum blossom painting, and it is my favorite art project either of my children has done in four years of school. Simple and lovely and befitting the holiday. ICP also posted a recipe I put together for yuanxiao, a sweet treat for the holiday which is enjoyed all year around in our house (usually not made by hand, however).

While looking over our selection of Chinese New Year themed books, I realized that several were written by local authors here in the Bay Area. A new addition my kids got this year from friends is Year of the Rabbit, the latest in the series of zodiac-themed books by Oliver Chin. It presents a humorous and simple introduction to the animals of the zodiac, clearly aimed at children who did not grow up with the Chinese tradition.

A couple of years ago when I came across The Cable Car and the Dragon, I thought the book must have been written with my son in mind. Cable cars and dragon dances in one book! Do all five-year-olds feel so passionately about those two things? It’s a wonderful story about San Francisco, an escapee dragon, and a cable car come to life, which my son adores.

For those who are interested, Oliver Chin will be reading at several New Year events in the area. In the meantime, my son’s Chinese immersion school has the day off tomorrow, so we are going skiing (and bringing our hotpot with us).

Happy New Year! 兔年大吉!

[Image courtesy of OnTask]


Celebrating Chinese New Year in the Bay Area

If you live in the Bay Area and are looking for fun things to do for Chinese New Year, here is my rundown via Bay Area Mama.

Childbook also has a list of events throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Enjoy and Happy Year of the Rabbit!



I don’t call them resolutions and I don’t make any promises. But I do have goals for this new year, which include:

- Regular exercise
- Eat well
- Take my vitamins
- Make time to read
- Resuscitate this website

Stay tuned. And Happy 2011 to all!