Sunday, February 14, 2010

Adventures in Multicultural Living: Discovering the meaning in Chinese New Year's celebrations -

I never even heard of Chinese New Year until I was already 12 years old. We had recently moved from Los Angeles to San Jose, and I had just started attending Saturday morning Chinese School for the first time. One of our lessons was about Chinese New Year stories and customs. Of course, being only 12, I was most interested in the tradition of red envelopes, which contain gifts of money. I went home demanding to know why my brother and I had never before received red envelopes, and insisted on years of back pay.

My brother and I forced our parents to celebrate Chinese New Year that year. We invited all our relatives over for a big dinner of Mongolian hot pot and we made a special trip to the really far Chinese butcher’s for the extra-thin cuts of meat needed. Aunts No. 3 and 6 came with all our cousins, and we had so much fun with the house full of relatives, warm with gossip and food, that we did not even notice until everyone had left that we still did not get any red envelopes.

Every year after that, I would ask my parents what they were planning for Chinese New Year, and the usual response was, "Oh, I don’t even know when it is. I’ll have to check the Chinese calendar." If I was home, and insistent, then they would cook a meal and invite some relatives over; if not, then they would forget. They were modern Chinese who did not need these old world superstitions. But I did. (click on link for more)

Discovering the meaning in Chinese New Year's celebrations -

photo courtesy of Andrew Fang

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this! As a white mother of my Vietnamese/white children, I feel like I have to keep their cultural heritage intact, but we (my husband and I) don't get much help from my in-laws. I'm now feeling pretty good about our first New Year's celebration attempt this year -- we had red "lucky money" envelopes!