Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Making Zongzi for Dragon Boat Festival

This week marks Duanwu Jie, or Dragon Boat Festival, the most poetic of the Chinese holidays (and my favorite). In honor of it, here are step-by-step instructions (courtesy of CNN) for making the traditional rice dumplings that are eaten on this day.

For more about the history and meaning of Duanwu Jie, see my post from last year.


Celebrating Asia Heritage in San Francisco

[This will be cross-posted at Today’s Mama]
Ever since he saw his first lion dance, my son has been obsessed, regularly using a blanket over his head and an impromptu drum to dance around our living room, pawing the ground, jumping up, and performing acrobatic feats just like the real thing. This year he had a chance to be part of a real lion dance at his school which was one of the most exciting moments in his five-year-old life. Outside of the celebratory two week Lunar New Year period, lion dances are usually few and far between, but this weekend in San Francisco is a chance to again partake in the fun. The Asian Heritage Festival, Saturday from 11-6 outside the Civic Center, will kick off with a Lion Dance troup, and will also feature a variety of performers, vendors, and more. Find more information here and see their ad below:


Good-bye Ox; Hello Tiger

This Sunday, the 14th, is the first day of the Year of the Tiger, and the Bay Area is a great place to celebrate. Lunar New Year celebrations big and small can be found all over. We usually love the pan-Asian New Year Festival at the Oakland Museum, which is the right mix of performances, food, and crafts for kids of all ages. But unfortunately the museum is undergoing renovation this year so they won’t be holding the event.

On Monday, February 15 (President’s Day), the Bay Area Discovery Museum will hold their annual Chinese New Year Celebration with lion dances, and arts and crafts projects. It is generally crowded but fun. More info is here.

And of course the largest parade outside of Asia is held in San Francisco at the end of the two -week New Year holiday, this year on Saturday February 27 at 5:15 pm. More information is here.

On a smaller scale in the East Bay, I noticed during a recent visit that Ranch 99/Pacific East shopping center in Richmond will have a lion dance performance on Saturday February 20.

In the spirit of the season, here’s a song our whole family memorized after a pre-school new year performance last year:
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New Years Wishes

It’s now been exactly a year since I first started Hao Mama, and while I haven’t had time to post to it as much as I would have liked, I want to thank each and every one of you (all five!) who have read the site, posted comments, and offered your support. I’m hoping 2010 will find me more time and energy to focus here. In the meantime, I wish each of you a new year filled with peace and joy. 新年快乐!


Christmas Shopping

Below are some suggestions of holiday gifts for the little linguists in your lives. I have mentioned most of these products elsewhere on this site but they are worth pointing out again because each of them has been well-used and loved by my own kids. Happy Shopping!

What young child doesn’t love playing with magnets on the fridge? Why not have them learn some Chinese while they are at it?

Kingka, a matching game that teaches young learners to recognize Chinese characters and learn the meaning. There are various ways to play it depending on the age and fluency of your children, and the sturdy character cards themselves are a great resource.

A beautiful book that creatively introduces a few characters through a fun story.

A gentle CD of songs and counting rhymes designed to teach the basic sounds of Chinese to very young children. One of my kids’ favorite CDs.

A beautiful soothing collection of lullabies that puts both my kids to sleep every night. My little one now sings “You You Zha” (the name of the first song) to signal she is ready for bed.

There is something about the drawings of Elmer that babies just love.


Recommended Readings

A few readings from around the web that may be of interest:

- “Child’s play in China” a British journalist and father writes about the different attitudes toward play he sees in his children and their Chinese classmates

On a related note, an American teacher in Beijing writes about a generation of only children in China being educated without much training in leadership or team work.

And on the topic of play (about which I feel strongly), here is an excellent public radio program on “the educational power of things like play, sports, music, memorization and reflection”:

(If you can’t hear this, click here.)

This last one is not directly China related, though I have found that my children learn Chinese, like other subjects, best through playing, creating, singing, and imagining in the language, not through memorization or sitting still in a classroom and being taught. This program presents a powerful argument for why that is so.

- NPR reporter Scott Simon writes a beautiful essay in the Wall Street Journal reflecting on Thanksgiving with his Jewish-French-Irish-Chinese family including two adopted Chinese daughters:

Our Chinese children sit at the Passover table and scrounge for Easter eggs. They wear “South Side Irish” green scarves around their necks on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s all in the family.

My wife came home one day from our daughters’ Chinese culture class to announce there would be no class next week. “Because of the Jewish holidays,” she explained, straight-faced. Only in America. Our girls speak French, like their mother. My wife and I join our girls to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in Mandarin. We’ve learned that families mixed by marriage or adoption don’t shrink or starve a heritage. They nourish it with newcomers.

Happy Thanksgiving. 感恩节快乐!


Celebrating the Moon

The Moon Festival, or Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节) is coming up on October 3. The festival, one of the biggest annual holidays in China, celebrates the legend of Chang’e, the Moon Goddess, and is celebrated by gazing at the full moon, carrying lanterns, and eating mooncakes – round, dense, sweet pastries that resemble hockey pucks. The legend is explained on this website, as is the tradition of eating mooncakes. Wikipedia has more information and an expat mom living in Taiwan writes about the holiday here.

This animation very briefly tells the story of Chang’e and Hou Yi:

For those of you in the Bay Area who couldn’t make the festivities in Chinatown last weekend, here’s a short video:

Happy Moon Festival!


Hao Baba 父亲节快乐!

While there is no shortage of Chinese children’s songs honoring Mama, songs about Baba are harder to find. In honor of Father’s Day, here is one, Baba Hao 爸爸好 (“Baba’s good Baba’s good, does a lot but says little… Baba’s good, Baba’s good, earns a lot but spends little.”)

You can also learn the Chinese characters for Father’s Day in this video lesson:
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Dragon Boat Festival

Today is Duan Wu Jie (端午节), or Dragon Boat Festival, my favorite of the major Chinese holidays. It commemorates the beautiful, if not cheerful, story of the great poet Qu Yuan, who threw himself in the Mi Luo river in protest against the government. In order to try to save his body from being eaten by fish, people went out in boats and threw sticky rice cakes wrapped in leaves into the river. To honor Qu Yuan on this day, people around the world hold dragon boat races and eat zongzi, sticky rice dumplings.

The full history of the day, and a biography of Qu Yuan, are on Wikipedia. Crayola has posted craft projects related to dragon boats, and this book,Awakening the Dragon: The Dragon Boat Festival, explains the holiday to kids. Here’s a recipe for zongzi.


Interview with Grace Lin

Grace Lin‘s picture books have beautiful and lively illustrations that children love. Her book One Is a Drummer was one of L’s favorites and it almost single-handedly taught him how to count. The books are in English but introduce Chinese culture and especially food in a very inviting way. On the China Sprout blog, Xiaoning interviews Grace about her work and her transition to writing longer novels for older kids.