Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!

Today marks the first day of the Year of the Rabbit!  I've now celebrated Chinese New Year for half of my life, since moving to China in 2000.  I have some great memories of Chinese New Year... one year we went to this celebration where they set off fireworks right above our heads.  Literally chunks of ash and burning whatever-else-is-in-fireworks were raining down on the crowd.  People were holding newspapers over the heads (like that would do anything to protect them), and I think I'm permanently traumatized from the experience.  ok so maybe not that great of a memory, but it was definitely memorable.  Another year we were invited to a government official's house for dinner with his wife and son.  During dinner his son not-so-subtly told him his zipper was down.  There was no discretion whatsoever:  he stands up from the table and yanks his zipper up, then sits back down and continues talking.  I don't know why but David and I thought this was so funny and would always laugh when we remembered.  I think it's probably because he had such an important job, and this was the man who always referred to me as "the girl".  I was insulted every time, so I think I was glad he did something embarrassing and awkward during the most celebrated meal of the year.  Another year we rode our bikes into the city.  Everything was closed, everyone was at home, and the streets were ours.  It was so fun!  Because driving in China is so crazy and basically no one follows traffic lights or the rules of the road, we would always ride in taxis or in the van with our driver.  Much safer that way.  The picture in my mind of us riding in the city still makes me happy.  One year I took a bath in orange peels because it was supposed to bring you good luck for that year.  I don't remember anything significantly lucky happening as a result but it was worth a try.

Since moving back to America, I've still tried to celebrate Chinese New Year.  One year at breakfast David and I asked our parents to give us hong bao, or the red envelopes with money it it that children receive for the New Year.  They told us that if we only spoke Chinese to each other all day, they would.  So on the way to school, passing each other in the halls at school, and during dinner that night, we only spoke Chinese.  It was so fun to us, and we got our hong bao at the end of the day!  My freshman year in college, I taught some of my friends on my hall how to use chopsticks.  Last year I didn't do anything, because I was holiday-overloaded:  it was Caleb's birthday, Valentine's Day, and Chinese New Year.  Seriously can we not spread out the holidays a little better?

This year I had every intention of making a bunch of Chinese food and introducing Caleb to a really fun Chinese New Year celebration, but I was too un-motivated and tired when it came time to do all the cooking.  So instead we picked up Chinese food from Happy Wok and brought it home.  Caleb got frustrated with the "inefficiency of eating with two sticks", caved, and got a fork out.  Our fortunes were both the same, which was super disappointing.  Oh and did you know that the Chinese side of fortunes have now been replaced with Spanish?!  We listened to Chinese music while we cleaned up after dinner, but I was obviously the only one singing along, which isn't as exciting.  We finished off the night by eating the Chinese version of Dunkaroos, which we bought at the Asian grocery store earlier in the week.  Even though there were no fireworks, no hong bao, and no orange peel baths, and we didn't do any of the fun activities I had in mind (like Chinese checkers and a Chinese fire drill), it was perfect because we were just together.  Happy New Year!


  1. thanks for making me laugh today, sherri :) definitely remember the fireworks episode.

  2. You made me laugh, too, and cry, of course, but that's okay. I treasure these memories with our family, thankful that God allowed such a time in our lives. I love that this is part of who you are