Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Year of the Tiger

Somehow, the Chinese New Year is already upon us. It is now the Year of the Tiger. As the Chinese New Year follows the lunar cycle, the holiday can take place between mid-January and mid-February. This year’s holiday is not a particularly early one but it seemed to sneak up on us all the same. New Year’s Eve was Saturday February 13 with the first day of the Chinese New Year being Sunday February 14. We had a small Valentine’s party on Saturday, kept the decorations up until mid-morning and then switched to our New Year decorations. Luckily, red is a reoccurring color theme in both holidays.

At school this year, all kids were asked to speak at their respective Chinese New Year school assemblies. Tori’s assembly was first and she did a great job with her Mandarin greeting. I had the much easier job of repeating her traditional greeting into English. All the traditional greetings wish everyone luck and good fortune in the coming year. One of the traditional greetings also wishes the students good grades in the year ahead. It is hard to think of an American holidays where the traditional greeting says anything about academics. We just learned that only the top 20% of all students here are given spots at local universities so maybe the academic greeting makes sense. At the lower primary assembly, Adam and Royce also did a great job with their greetings. They followed our friends, the second grade twins, onto stage so that was a cute multiples moment.

This year Royce was invited to attend a friend’s family holiday. She spent the day visiting her friend’s family, grandparents, in-laws, great aunts. Royce said she meet 14 cousins. At all visits, she received candy and lai sei, red envelopes filled with money. This is a well known tradition and we typically hand out a few red envelopes ourselves. But Royce can back with many more than a few red envelopes and much more than a little cash. She loved the whole day and promptly sat down and wrote a thank you note to her friend’s family.

Later that evening, Royce remarked on how odd it was our family was just at home when everyone else was celebrating Chinese New Year. That pretty much summed up my feelings too. On this, our fourth year here, we are much closer to the holiday than before. I have box of holiday decorations. I feel excited when the holiday is near. I know some of the appropriate things to do and say. We even speak (in Mandarin) in all school assemblies. But the closer we get in some regards, the more I realize we are just peeking at the edges in others. We are definitely outsiders, but enthusiastic outsiders. I hope that counts enough to get us a little good fortune, a little flourishing of the dragon and horse spirits and maybe even a few good grades!


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