On Friday, our team joined millions of people around the world to celebrate the Chinese New Year (known as the Lunar New Year outside of China). The Chinese New Year ushers in the Spring Festival, which lasts 15 days in the country of our children’s birth.
For two weeks, Chinese families don reds and golds and feast and celebrate and gather together around family tables (causing what I’ve read is the world’s largest migration of people each year). They light fireworks and gift red envelopes and eat traditional meals (including long noodles to help offer “long life”), and for two weeks, they completely refrain from crying, breaking dishes, wearing black or white, using scissors (even for haircuts), lending or borrowing money and even visiting the hospital (clearly, our team would fail).
Although we won’t be honoring all these traditions (on the first day of Chinese New Year, you can’t wash your hair, sweep or take out the garbage, which means I “swept away” all my good luck for the year by the time my children woke up for breakfast), this year, we wanted to be intentional about celebrating the first culture of two of our superheroes.
It’s Superhero 4’s first Chinese New Year outside his home country, and it’s Superman’s first Chinese New Year while in school. What’s more, 2018 is the Year of the Dog, and after saying goodbye to our sweet puppy in November, it seemed like an appropriate time to celebrate.
For the last month, Superman has been grappling with some of the harder questions about his history. Why his mother left him. Why he looks different from his mommy and daddy. How he can meet his first family someday.
It’s been a tough emotional season for this superhero we love so much (I'll be writing more about that this week), and because of everything he has been working through, we wanted to be deliberate about honoring his first culture this year.
So we went all out.
Three of the four kiddos celebrated Chinese New Year in their classes with red envelopes they brought home from China and lanterns and fans they brought from home, and Superhero 2 joined me in Superman’s class to lead a full Chinese New Year celebration all Friday afternoon.
There, we helped Superman’s class usher in the Year of the Dog with red lanterns and Chinese New Year books and Chinese New Year traditions followed by stations for character writing, red envelope making and Chinese lantern creating. Afterward, the class feasted on dumplings and gold fish (because we didn’t think they would tolerate the REAL fish that is the traditional meal of Chinese New Year) and ate their meals with chopsticks.
And I have never seen my toothless Superman look so proud.
But my favorite part of our day happened that night, when our sweet friend Rachel invited all the families with Chinese superheroes or Chinese connections in our area over for a dinner and Chinese New Year celebration.
We packed more than 54 people (I stopped counting at that point) into Rachel’s beautiful home, where together, all our superheroes played for hours with families that looked just like ours. They feasted on traditional meals, played Chinese chess and Chinese checkers, lit sparklers and enjoyed time in a place where their culture and that of their siblings could be honored and celebrated. And when they left, Miss Rachel even gifted each one with a red envelope filled with a dollar bill.
When WE left, we walked out the door with new, beautiful friends.
It was special. It was super. And it was just what our Chinese-born superheroes needed to feel a connection to their culture and that their history mattered.
Want to celebrate with your superheroes this Chinese New Year? Check out these tips from our dear Chinese tutor, Mackenzie, who was just featured last week on No Hands But Ours.
* Make Red Envelopes ("Hong Bao").
It is customary for the older generation to give the younger generation red envelopes/packets with money to start the New Year. Children usually receive money from grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, etc.
* Read and learn about the Zodiac and Lunar New Year.
* Clean the house and paste "福" (which means blessing, fortune or happiness) or "Chun lian" on the front door.
Both are representative of good wishes and are written on bright red paper, pasted on the front door (of practically every home and business)!
* Make lanterns.
* Light fireworks (or sparklers).
(This is a key part of the New Year celebrations. The fireworks are incredibly loud, last daaayyss, and leave the streets sprinkled with firework dust.)
* Make dumplings (or other New Year-related feast).
Your celebration doesn't have to be perfect (or even tasty) for it to honor the superheroes whose lives began in China.
Just intentional. <3