Chinese New Year is on 1/31 and this is the Year of the Horse. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the holiday, Chinese New Year is, in many ways, a combination of Christmas/Chanukah, Rosh Hashanah, Passover, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve. Gifts are exchanged, often with symbolic meanings (cakes, fruit baskets, etc.). Similar to Jews giving children gelt (often chocolate “gold” coins) on Chanukah, the Chinese give children little red envelopes of cash on Chinese New Year. Food, of course, takes center stage during the holiday with classics such as fish, noodles, spring rolls, dumplings, seafood, tangerines, exotic fruits, etc. (all symbolizing good luck and prosperity, of course).
In addition, there’s lots of pre-holiday prep that goes on weeks beforehand. Growing up, I remember my mother cleaning out the entire house, cars, refrigerator, etc.–all in preparation for a “clean slate” for the upcoming year. There would also be new clothes for every one, new haircuts, issues and conflicts resolved, etc.–all before New Year’s Day (which would vary from year to year per the lunar calendar).
All this talk about the holiday makes me think about how I’d like to pass tradition down to my children one day as “[c]ultures grow on the vines of tradition” (Jonah Goldberg).