I love to learn about other cultures, their beliefs and traditions and to share various festivals with my children. And, given that our winter is so long, I particularly look forward to any celebration that falls between Old Christmas Day and Easter. (Actually, scratch that - I like to make a deal about Cinco de Mayo too... and that is in May!). Over the years, we've developped a few rituals in our family, to mark the Chinese New Year:
- In the Chinese culture, it is customary to give children red envelopes filled with money as a New Year's treat. Years ago, I actually found some pretty ones at Pier One that had beautiful symbols and Chinese calligraphy on them. They're long gone now, so this year I'll be using plain red envelopes that I will decorate with gold ink and my Chinese zodiac stamps. These will be placed next to the cutlery for the boys to open at supper.
- I always look up the character traits of our zodiac signs, and the predictions for each of us for the coming year. I'll write these down on a card and also place at the table setting. It is fun to compare our signs' traits to our personalities - Toad always takes his Monkey status very seriously!
- We try to make decorations in red & gold that represent the coming year. 2011 marks the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit.
- We usually have a stir fry &/or Chinese Rice. Maybe this will be the year we take out chopsticks!
- My favourite part? Reading "The Great Race" by David Bouchard. It has beautiful, beautiful illustrations. It is a legend about how the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac came to be in the order they are in....charming story.
Gung Hay Fat Choy!