Tuesday, January 15, 2013

union of the snake

no, wait, that's a song from duran duran.  oh, how i adored simon le bon back in the day...

what i meant was the year of the snake.  chinese new year begins on february 10th in 2013.

it is the second in a series of holidays we are celebrating in the next month, the first being groundhog day.  we've started decorating for it already.

firecracker craft from the year of the rabbit in 2011

no, these are not cny decorations, but the red bow and baby's breath and greenery from my anniversary roses look sooo pretty on our table, still
we've watched the chinese new year video from our favorite collection at the library: schlessinger media's holidays for children.

the excitement - particularly the intensely and purposefully loud sounds of drums, cymbals, and firecrackers - of watching a live performance of a lion dance is too much for the kids right now, though when each was much younger (maybe ages one or two) we took them to local demonstrations and they had a lot of fun watching the big eyes blinking at them and the giant mouth opening and closing.

thank goodness for youtube, where i easily found examples that they could watch at their leisure.

the kids are both really excited by the animal dancing.  ander is jumping up and down and all around with a flowing red cape, mimicking the movements of the lion's body, and diana is fashioning her own dragon costume, complete with a working mouth.

for our home library, i acquired one of diana's favorites for this time of year, the rooster's antlers: a story of the chinese zodiac by eric kimmel.  ander likes chinese new year: count and celebrate by frederick mckissack. my personal favorite is moonbeams, dumplings & dragon boats: a treasury of chinese holiday tales, activities & recipes by nina simonds, leslie swartz & the children's museum in boston.  but celebrating chinese new year by diane hoyt-goldsmith looks appealing, especially for its photographs and details about celebrating chinese new year in san francisco.

now is the time we'll probably search for titles by awesome author laurence yep and pull out the seven chinese sisters by kathy tucker and the moon maiden and other asian folktales by hua long, more for the fact that they are cultural, not because they apply specifically to the new year.

we like to admire and practice making chinese characters, too.  we've had a usborne kit about it for quite some time (i don't think they make it anymore, sadly) and it has been especially handy for this time of year or whenever we are studying chinese culture.  these days it's much quicker to print a page or two from sites like this, which offer mandarin and cantonese versions of happy new year greetings, among other things.

we'll give the kids lai see or hong bao and remind them how to ask for it (see here for an excellent demonstration of the pronunciation and writing of the characters and a simple interpretation of their meanings).

i'll likely bring out some craft materials so we can create some snakes, dragons, or other creatures, based loosely on ideas from kaboose.

now that i've found a kind of rice and a kind of long noodle that i know both of my children will eat, at least i know two of the dishes i'll make to celebrate.

and maybe, just maybe, the kids will put on the gorgeous red outfits we found at the thrift store and pose for a picture.  oh, how fabulous they look!  but, it's about comfort for them, understandably, and they may be too busy celebrating diana's birthday to dress up for chinese new year.  of course, the celebration goes on for fifteen days, culminating in the lantern festival, so i hold out some hope.

'tis the season for red!


  1. Your enthusiasm is contagious! We will be doing some of these fun things, too, now!

  2. Replies
    1. now to remember to get the money for those red envelopes!

  3. Have you read any Grace Lin? Katherine & I liked The Year of The Dog & The Year of the Rat. I Haven't Read Where The Mountain Meets The moon yet, but it is a Newberry Honor Book..

    1. thanks for the suggestion! i looked her up and realized we had read some of her picture books, but i didn't know about her novels for older readers. putting her on the list now...