Monday, February 8, 2016

Xin nian kuai le! {Happy Chinese New Year!}

It is our second Chinese New Year in our home.  Starting a new tradition is fun, yet much grace is required.  We are still figuring out what place Chinese New Year will have in our home and just how it will be celebrated.  We enjoy the cultural aspect of it and find it important to celebrate in some way, as it is the largest, most important holiday in the whole year in China.  It is the Chinese equivalent to the American Christmas.  It is a big deal!  We want to honor Hannah's heritage, but also make it our needs to be not just a Chinese thing, but also part of the Burri heritage too. 

So, it is our second year of celebrating and we are still very much in the process of figuring out just what it will look like from year to year in our home.  Timing is a bit of a struggle for us...Chinese New Year almost always falls late January to mid February and is a time of significant celebrations already happening in our home.  Late January is Hannah day, February 5th is Welcome Home Hannah Day, February 19th is the twins birthday, 2.5 weeks later is Hannah's birthday, and then another two weeks later is Jacob's birthday.  All this on the heels of an already festive Christmas and American New Year!  Phew!  That is a lot to celebrate.  So Chinese New Year sort of takes a back seat and gets sandwiched in and grouped together with some other activities we have going on, but we at least want to give it a nod of attention.

What did it look like this year?  Well, since it fell so close to Welcome Home Hannah Day, we went out for a Chinese dinner and celebrated both Hannah's arrival home and Chinese New Year at the same time.  We baked cookies cut out in the shape of hearts and China and used those for both celebrations as well.  On the start of Chinese New Year (which is actually 15 days of festivals and various celebrations in China), we set aside part of our school day to read many books about China, Chinese New Year, and Chinese culture.  The kids colored Chinese New Year coloring pages, and got to make lion masks.  The girls got to wear their Chinese silks.  We ate super long noodles for lunch (considered good luck for a prosperous year in China).  We ate China cut out cookies and will have dinner off festive CNY paper products (yup, you can actually buy that stuff right here in KY!).  We'll have mandarin oranges (another symbol of prosperity in China) with our dinner.  We hung red lanterns around the house about a week ago.  It isn't much, but we're still very much figuring it out.  Part of it will also involve learning what Hannah wants to do, how much she wants to celebrate, and how connected she wants to remain to her Chinese heritage over the years.

Overall, the main thing I've learned about Chinese New Year is that it is largely about family, being home, and being together along with a sense of a fresh and new start.  We are thankful Hannah is home and we already know that the Lord's mercies are new and fresh each day and that is ALWAYS worth celebrating, so celebrate we our own awkward Kentucky sort of Chinese New Year way.  Over the years I'm sure we'll find what works for us, what excites the kids, and what helps draw our eyes beyond the superstitions associated with the holiday and keep us focused on Christ and how He can equip us for a new year ahead.

So, in our awkward Kentucky Chinese New Year way, may we say,

Xin nian kuai le!


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