Year of the Horse

Friday, January 24, 2014

大家好! Hello

I know it has been a really long time since I have written a post, so my new year's resolution is to make sure to write at least one post a month. I enjoy writing so no matter how busy I get, I would like to commit a little bit of "me" time once a month to sit down and write about what I am most interested in.

As many of you know, Chinese New Year is on January 31 this year. Since I am an American, raised in Belgium for ten years and South Africa for eight, needless to say, I did not grow up celebrating this holiday, nor did I really know a whole lot about it. However, since meeting my husband, I have been introduced to this beautiful and exciting holiday. I am not superstitious in any way, so I do not actually believe in the 12 zodiacs, but I find them fascinating. I love learning about different cultures and beliefs. The story of the Chinese zodiac is cute. Chinese legend says that in the ancient times Buddha asked all of the animals to meet him on the lunar new year. Twelve of the animals showed up (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig) so Buddha named a year after each one of these animals. Legend also says that each year will have some of the characteristics of the animal that particular year is named after. If you like watching anime or reading manga, Fruits Basket is a cute story that's plot is based around the Chinese zodiac.

Like I said, I don't believe in all of the legends behind Chinese New Year, but it is still fun to learn about it and look at all the decorations put up for this holiday. I was first introduced to Chinese New Year the first time I went to my husband's family home for Christmas five years ago. I am used to Christmas being a big event with a tree and decorations and presents. When I was with my husband's family though, there was not a single gift exchanged at all. Although I wasn't upset about not having a gift exchange, I was a little surprised and curious. Then my husband explains that his Taiwanese family has a much grander celebration for the Lunar New Year and that gifts (mostly money in red envelopes) will be exchanged then. Since then, I've been interested in the holiday and enjoy celebrating it. 

In Orlando we have a large Asian community so we have the awesome opportunity to join in the large festivities with them. My favorite thing to do on Chinese New Year day is to wake up early and go to the festivity location to find a good view for the parade, then we walk around looking at all the booths that people have set up to promote their programs (tae kwon do, Chinese school, Chinese dance class, etc.), eat all kinds of delicious food, and then watch the performers sing and dance on stage (last year there were even sword performers!).

I really enjoy this holiday and love to bring our friends along to help broaden their worlds and introduce them to new and beautiful cultures. If you haven't ever gone to a Chinese New Year celebration, I encourage you to find someplace that does celebrate and join in the festivities. There are many communities all throughout the country that will get together to celebrate (whether large or small), so if you look, I'm sure you will find something.

Happy New Year! 恭禧發財

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