Chinese New Year (CNY) brings me many of my fondest childhood memories, so I wanted to share this part of my life on my blog, despite how different it is from my usual posts. While I was born in Pennsylvania, I actually spent most of my life in Taiwan, where I was brought up as a third-culture kid. My maternal grandparents were born in the 20th century in the countryside and my paternal grandparents in the city, thus I experienced various ways of CNY celebrations, ranging from ancient to modern and from farming to city life. The celebrations differ year to year, but celebrations continue.
CNY is the biggest festival in the lunar calendar year. My parents and grandparents started the preparation at least two weeks in advance. They started with house cleaning, decorations with calligraphy on red paper, and much more. On New Year’s Eve, my grandparents led the whole family to offer delicious food to the spirits of ancestors and burn paper money to send to them money through the ashes. We then sat down for a wholesome family dinner, gathered together to pay our respects to the elders, received red envelope money, and played card games. All the activities were in hope for a new and better year. On New Year’s Day, everyone would gather together for a day of family fun, games, and indulgence. At night, it was time for firecrackers – the kids’ favorite part (aside from getting red envelopes).
As my brother and I grew older, CNY celebrations took on a new twist. Sometimes my paternal grandmother was in the states and we would “break the tradition” by going to my maternal grandparents’ place earlier. Sometimes relatives couldn’t make it to CNY dinner due to busy schedules and not living close enough. Nevertheless, the celebrations continued (and so did the illegal firecrackers).
After I went to college, I was no longer in Taiwan to celebrate CNY because I had to be in school. Thankfully, I had a family away from home to celebrate with, and I never missed a single CNY hot pot gathering. Now that I work in New York City, celebrations are going to be even more different every year. This year my parents flew here to visit me, so I was able to spend and celebrate the holiday with them. But what about next year? And the year after that? When we walked down Chinatown in NYC, I saw Chinese Americans celebrate the festival in the old-fashioned way, with burned incense and lit firecrackers. They reminded me of my childhood. It was weird, it felt like I was walking in a city of my past, but the modern buildings and merchandise reminded me of the new city I recently moved to.
This year is the Year of the Rooster, which means next year is the Year of the Dog (my year woohoo!). It’s crazy to think that it is almost my year! Even though I am far away from home, I will always celebrate CNY. Maybe I will even get to celebrate it back home sometime soon! If you also celebrate CNY, let me know how you celebrate it in the comments below. I know this is not my typical post, but this is a personal blog and I enjoy sharing my life, thoughts and reflections here. As always, thank you for stopping by : )
P.S. Thank you to my parents for flying across the ocean to be with me and I miss you guys so much <3