January 31st, 2014 is Lunar New Year (also known as Chinese New Year and Spring Festival). We celebrate each year with a visit to Lan Su Chinese Garden, attendance at local cultural events to see the always beloved Lion or Dragon Dances, lanterns, rolling fruit, lucky red envelopes, new clothes, firecrackers, and most importantly a connection to my daughter’s culture. The picture above is from a few years back when we were celebrating the year of the Rabbit and my daughter was photographed by The Oregonian at Lan Su. We visited the garden again yesterday, this time in anticipation of the year of the Horse.
While New Year’s Eve tends to be silliness and fun (which for us involves making funny predictions about ourselves for the upcoming year and tucking them away for the next New Year’s Eve), the Lunar New Year gets us thinking and talking about the cultures and roots of our family.
If you and your family are not familiar with the Lunar New Year, here is a great video illustrating one fable of how the years came by their associated animals.
I also wanted to share some book resources on our shelves that I would recommend to your family. Four key children’s books that tell a great story, as well as offer resource help culturally (whether explaining clothing, customs, or food). They are much loved stories at our house evidenced by their worn pages.
New Clothes for New Year’s Day by Hyun-Joo Bae is a favorite for my girls. They each get out their hanbok and get dressed like the girl in the book, remembering the sequence and significance of each piece involved.
The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine is focused on helping those most in need. This is a sweet book about a wok that becomes a hero on Chinese New Year’s Eve. All turns out well when the community gathers to share the abundance the wok has given.
Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin is a great introductory read for Lunar New Year. Read as a Chinese American family prepares and welcomes the new year. Personally I love the big dragon pull out in the back of the book (and so do my kids).
You will be taken by the diversity in This Next New Year. I loved how this book emphasizes that you don’t have to be Chinese to celebrate Lunar New Year! This Next New Year by Janet S. Wong is a great inclusionary tale for Blended families who are seeking to mark the new moon together.
No matter how you mark the day – from our family to yours – Happy New Year!