Tuesday, February 08, 2005

4703: Year of the Rooster

Happy Chinese New Year to all my loyal blog readers! Growing up in New Jersey, Chinese New Year was not a big deal to me or my family. My only memories of the holiday as a child were of my parents playing mahjong with their friends on New Year's Eve--pausing only to raise a toast at midnight--and eating a special dessert made out of red beans, sugar and flour. It was only when I moved out to California when I realized how important the holiday was to the Chinese-Americans living out here. The red envelopes handed out to children, oranges everywhere, the New Year's banquet and San Francisco Chinese New Year parade were all new to me.

From the local rag (SF Chronicle):
Unlike the scale and pageantry of San Francisco's annual Chinese New Year Parade on Feb. 19, Lunar New Year's day is often an intimate family event where traditions are passed down.

Yu's family has feasts to close out the old year and welcome the new one, with separate meals for his mother's and father's families. He'll also wear his red turtleneck or T-shirt or pants, because the color is lucky. Last week at the Chinese American International School, he donned a Buddha mask during the lion dancing, made firecrackers, and learned about Lunar New Year customs.

"I'm excited it's my year," said Lawrence Wong, who lives in San Francisco's Richmond District and is turning 48 in December. "I feel old every time it comes around." He's independent and eccentric, like a rooster, he said.

His family, like many others, gives out red envelopes of lucky money, and refrains from sweeping away the good luck or cutting their hair. "Some of the stuff drives me crazy," Wong said. "Sometimes I'm not sure which day is the new year and I start sweeping, and my mom starts yelling."
It's a tradition that I hope to pass down to my children.


At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let the tradition go on. Here's how we celebrate Chinese New Year. There were 10 of us (adults and kids) at my parents home on new year's eve. After dinner, my mom gave everyone a red envelope to be place under the mattress for good luck. The first meal on new year's day, we eat only Jai (no meat). On the second day of the new year, the whole family go out for dinner in celebrating the new year. Happy New Year, James, Jenny, Russell and Zachery! Gung Hay Fat Choy!.......Rosa Lee


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