I'm filling in for Beth Trissel.
For years I taught elementary school. Even though the test preparation pressure was mounting, I still tried to work cultural lessons into our curriculum. When I was a fourth grade teacher, one of my brightest and kindest students was also my shyest. So when I was teaching the kids about Chinese New Year, I was pleasantly surprised when she raised her hand and asked me if I wanted to know how to wish everyone a happy new year in (Cantonese) Chinese. We dutifully practiced saying, “Gong hei fat choy” until she was reasonably satisfied with our pronunciation and she seemed to be so happy to make a contribution.
Teaching second grade in another district took an adjustment, but the children were so sweet and willing to please. I handed out fortune cookies at the end of my lesson and watched the kids, many of whom had never had a fortune cookie, excitedly read their fortunes to each other and munch on the tasty, crunchy cookies. I noticed my quirkiest kid was just sitting there quietly with a puzzled look on his face and that he wasn’t participating in the melee.
Suspecting I knew the answer, I said, “What happened to your fortune, sweetheart?”
He pondered my question for a moment, then shrugged. “I think I ate it.”
Chinese New Year is once again almost upon us. ` The first day is February 1, but people are making preparations now. Cleaning the house is important, putting aside old things, saying goodbye to the old year, and welcoming the new one. After the last couple of years I like that idea.
Most people buy new clothes, even if they don't need a new outfit. The house should be decorated with lucky red. Children are given red envelopes full of money. The celebration includes a large extended family dinner. In the traditional celebrations, married women venture to their parents' home for a reunion visit. Friends and neighbors visit one another during the two week celebrations, with younger people calling on older ones and bringing fresh oranges. The holiday ends with a festival featuring dragon dances and fireworks.
2022 is the Year of the Tiger. Tigers are competitive, generous, brave, and confident. Christopher Lloyd, Stevie Wonder, Jon Bon Jovi, Leonardo di Caprio, and Lady Gaga are tigers. So clean your house, get some new duds, plan your menu, and practice saying, "Gong hei fat choy." Just remember not to eat your fortune.
Fortune Cookie: Pablo Jimenez
Woman Wearing Read: Tun
Dragon Dance: Vladislav Vasnetsov
Tiger: Free Piks