Guest Columnist speaks about Lunar New Year experiences
I think a lot of people heavily exoticise Chinese New Year, and that is the mindset I want to discourage when reading this article.
Sure, it is a big deal in China, but I would like to concentrate on the Chinese American experience of Lunar New Year.
Many Chinese families who have settled here in the United States bond together into little Chinese communities as a support system. They often set up Chinese language schools to teach their children about Chinese heritage and throw holiday parties to have a piece of home to hold on to.
Chinese New Year celebrations are their biggest way to find home-like comfort here in the United States.
When I lived in Lincoln, NE, the parties were held in huge community halls with stages for performances and a buffet of traditional food in the lobby. My mom would even sign me up to do traditional dances to perform in those halls.
After all the the celebratory eating and performances were done, the kids would go around and wish all of their elders a happy New Year, and they would get little red envelopes in exchange. These “hong bao” contained money that valued in accordance to how sincere they thought your well wishes were.
I know that this account may seem cool in a 1950s Oriental way, but it is really just a part of life when you grow up as a Chinese American.
It is like Christmas to us, but because we do not get to spend it with our extended family, we celebrate it as a cultural community. I could write so much more but if you are interested, just ask.