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Yesterday was our Chinese New Year eve that I shared a little in Happy Chinese New Year – Pintastic Pinteresting Party #5. There have been a lot of questions from Kids regarding the event. Therefore, i would like to share how kids learn about our ancestors' cultural heritage.
First of all, I would like to wish a Happy Chinese New Year for those who celebrate it. Chinese new year is one of our family biggest events. We have never been to China and we cannot speak Chinese either. However, we still celebrate it year by year although it has just been allowed in around year 2003. Although Barongsai or Lion dance, lantern, and other Chinese New Year attributes and accessories were strictly forbidden when I was a kid, my parents taught us some traditional practice of Chinese New Year Tradition. Here are some typical sequence of events during Chinese New Year in our family.
Visit Parents or The Elders
We always visit our parents wherever they are. It is usually started from the husband family first. For my husband family, we don't usually visit his parent at home, but we usually meet in a reserved restaurant table. However, this year is different. We start from my parents first and this year my parents are willing to celebrate it in our house, so that we didn't go anywhere last night. My husband's family meet up will be on Saturday, February 1st dinner.
We usually open the dinner with photo sessions. Kids still look fresh. We usually have red nuance dresses in the celebration.
We are gathered around the buffet menu and pray together for our gratefulness for the previous year and blessings for the next new year. As I told previously, we just left the snake year and welcomed the horse year. This year we had a blessing from our relative who sent us a cake. As we have two family members who belong to the horse year, they cut the cake together like it was their birthday.
Red Pocket Parceling
After dinner, we had a red pocket parceling. This is the tradition when the older couple or parents or relatives give red pocket having some money inside for the younger or unmarried children. The elder generation might have one from younger generation couple. The tradition is opened by giving blessing from the eldest generation (grandparents) to the younger generation (parent). Parents congratulate the grandparents for having the new year. The parceling is usually started from the eldest generation who have the stage.
Grandparents sit down side by side. Grandchildren make a line in front of grandfather. One by one they congratulate the grandfather and the grandfather gives a red pocket with money inside. The grandchild will say thank you and move to the grandmother.
When the grandparent generation finishes, it is the turn for the elder parent couple to do the same “performance”
It goes to the younger parent couple, and so on.
There are a lot of symbols around the Chinese New Year celebration:
- The food gives a symbol of energy. The food choice is based on the categorization. We always take food from land animals, living in the water, air, and land. People trust that they need to get stronger energy from the land, water, and air. Therefore we use to have fried dove, fish, and chicken as parts of our menu.
- Giving red envelope to spread our fortune or throwing away the bad luck.
- Having turn started from the eldest is a kind of symbol that we need to respect the elders.
- Most food is sweet to hope that we are going to find sweet things in the coming year.
- We had a “basket Cake”. I don't have any idea whether this kind of cake is really available in China or not, but it is a must for us to eat this cake to get a lot of prosperity in the following year. The name shows that we can get a basketful prosperity by eating this cake. Isn't it funny?
I have never been aware those symbolization and tradition can shape our children character of respect toward the elder, the ancestors, and the tradition. We also learn how we need to be grateful of what we have got and hope for the best in the coming years. A unit study for this will be a great fun.