As a grandmother, I love China. When Mark & I went there a few years ago, we saw grandparents everywhere taking care of their grandchildren. My favorite was a village woman carrying twin 1-year-olds on her back, with both babies wearing the split pants popular there. And whenever we had the littlest problem, our Chinese guides told us to emphasize our advanced age, since this is one part of the world that still venerates age and the aging.
So I’m looking forward to celebrating Chinese New Year. The holiday begins on Monday, January 26, but don’t worry if you can’t celebrate tomorrow -- celebrations typically last 2 to 4 weeks. In China celebrations used to last that long because farmers couldn’t plant crops during the winter anyway, but now that so many Chinese live in cities, celebrations usually run about two weeks. Like Jewish holidays, Chinese New Year is dictated by the lunar calendar (based on phases of the moon – rather than the solar calendar, which has a fixed number of days – 365 or 366), it never falls on the same day from year to year.
Families clean their houses before the New Year to get rid of bad luck from the year before and accept good luck for the new year; they buy and wear new clothes; and children get little red envelopes with money in them to assure prosperity in the year ahead.
Eating is always a good way to celebrate – either in your favorite Chinese restaurant or at home. For some good, easy recipes you can go to: http://recipes.kaboose.com/international/chinese-food-recipes/chinese-recipes.html. Symbolic foods include dumplings (because they look like golden nuggets" says Daria Ng), oranges ("because they are perfectly round, symbolizing completeness and wholeness"), and long noodles ("served to symbolize long life").
For other ways to celebrate at home, including craft ideas, books for kids, and popular traditions, go to http://holidays.kaboose.com/celebrating-chinese-new-year-home.html. In cities with sizable Chinese populations, you can often see wonderful parades. We have taken our grandchildren to New York’s Chinatown parade featuring fireworks, marching bands, and the “lion dance,” in which several dancers get under a long decorated costume and dance together to scare away bad luck.
So I wish you all a Happy New Year!
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