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Friday, January 28, 2022

Happy New Year by Bea Tifton

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.

Photo Credits:

Fortune Cookie: Pablo Jimenez

Woman Wearing Read: Tun

Dragon Dance: Vladislav Vasnetsov

Tiger: Free Piks


  1. I enjoyed this so much. I knew virtually nothing about Chinese New Year. How great it was for that little girl to be able to share something that was hers.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Both of those memories are precious to me. Thanks for your comment.

  2. What a fun post. I love to hear about the enthusiasm of grade school children ...and I learned something, too.

    1. Thank you! What a nice thing to say. I love their enthusiasm, too.

  3. Another great post! I think I will skip the regular New Year next year and go with the Chinese New Year- Gives me more time to procrastinate.

  4. I bet you were a wonderful teacher and that your students appreciate you even today. We all need a few special teachers like you. As for Chinese New Year, we used to celebrate it in Seattle with what we called an international pot luck, where each family brought a dish from their heritage. Those were some tasty dinners and we all tried things unusual to us. We sure loved that party!


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